SANA’A, Yemen (21st FIBA Asia U18 Championship): Iran scored the first 10 points of the second quarter, and then strengthened it further with mini-runs before culminating in a rousing 80-45 win over hosts Yemen in the last of the quarterfinals on Wednesday.
The win pits Iran against China in the semifinals on the morrow. Yemen have to be content in playing in the 5-8 Classification against Lebanon.
“We have already played China in this competition. So probably it is better we play against Lebanon for our experience,” joked Yemen coach Saber Al Aghbari.
“There is nothing to comment on the game. In my opinion, we worked hard and played well. We lost to a better team,” he said.
Yemen did well to keep the score within striking distance, even managing to nudge ahead via an Aiman Yousef three-pointer.
But Sajjad Mashayekhi converted twin free-throws to keep the score on par.
On resumption, Siamak Torabikhah fired two three-pointers in once from flank and Mirmohammad Mirfattahi (No. 12 in white jersey in picture above) drove in twice and succeeded, to help Iran seize the initiative.
And when the latter slam-dunked to give Iran a 15-point lead, with about three minutes left on the clock, the writing on the wall seemed clear for Yemen.
In all, Iran outscored their rivals 24-9 in the second quarter, and then only built on it.
Mirfattahi was the leader of the Iran attack during this period scoring nine of his game-high 16 points during this period.
“We played the wait and watch in the first quarter,” said Iran coach Mohsen Sadegh Zadeh.
“We knew their strengths and weakness. Once we used pressure on them, we knew they didn’t have enough backup,” he added.
“What I am pleased is that things happened we wanted, and when we wanted them,” he added.
Looking ahead at the semifinals, the coach said: “I am confident we can do better than we did against Korea.”
“Therefore the boys are looking forward to that game. The boys told me even before today’s game ‘Coach, we’ll beat China.’ That’s the kind of emotion and determination they are riding on,” Sadegh Zadeh said.
For Game Statistics and Detailed scores click here