Game Photos. Game Details and Stats
TOKYO, Japan (4th FIBA Asia Cup): Pushed to a spot for the entire first half, twice former FIBA Asia Champions Iran raised the bar in the second tightening the pivotal screws and coasted through to a 77-60 win against a spirited, but error-prone, Philippines and booked their place in the finals of the 4th FIBA Asia Cup.
Having been held to an even contest – on the scoreboard as well as on the floor – in the first two periods, Iran opened the second half with an 8-0 run to take charge of the proceedings and the scoreboard. In a manner of speaking, that run spoke for the changing fortunes in the game – which gradually went overwhelmingly towards one team as the game progressed.
“I think we turned the ball over once too often. Didn’t we?” rued Philippines coach Chot Reyes.
Philippines turned the ball over 23 times against 4 steals as against Iran’s 18 turnovers on 6 steals. More importantly, where the two team had been equally error-prone – Iran’s 14 to Philippines’ 13 in the first half – the West Asian team cut down their mistakes in the second.
“Yes. I think that was the key to our win,” agreed Iran coach Memi Becirovic after steering Iran to the finals in his maiden FIBA Asia competition. Incidentally, it is also Iran’s first ever final entry in a FIBA Asia competition after their historic 70-52 triumph against China in the gold medal game of the 25th FIBA Asia Championship at Tianjin (China) in 2009.
“The way we defended and the way our big guys kept a check on him (Marcus Douthit) were the key,” he said.
“What killed us more was the turnovers came from our leading guys,” Reyes said.
LA Tenorio and Jared Dillinger each had 13 points apiece to lead Philippines’ scoring, but committed 5 and 4 turn overs respectively.
Naturalized center Marcus Douthit, the axle on which the Filipino wheel revolves, had 5 turnovers that took the sheen off his 11 points and 7 rebounds.
Where Philippines floundered the open-ended game, Iran flourished to take control.
Nine out of Hamed Afagh’s 14-point team-high for Iran came in the second half, and seven out Oshin Sahakian’s (pic above) dozen for the game came in the third period.
Samad Bahrami had only 4 points in a forgettable first half of 1/6 field shooting, but went on to finish with a dozen points. And Aren Davoudi dished 4 of his game-high 5 assists after the interval.
Iran indeed played far better than themselves in the second half. And also far better than their rivals.
S Mageshwaran / FIBA Asia
Photo: Milad Payami / FIBA Asia