Iran in FIBA Asia finals after crushing Chinese Taipei
Iran's Nikkah Bahrami Samad goes for a basket against Chinese Taipei's Tseng Wen-ting. Iran defeated Chinese Taipei and advanced to the 27th FIBA Asia Men's Basketball Championship title game Sunday. -- Photo by Nuki Sabio, FIBA Pool
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - Iran continued its dominant romp in the 27th FIBA Asia Men's Basketball Championship, as they marched to the tournament finals after routing hapless Chinese Taipei, 79-60, in their semifinal game at the Mall of Asia Arena on Saturday night.
Iran, the tournament favorites, have now won eight consecutive games in blowout fashion, but they came out flat against Chinese Taipei and trailed by as much as nine points in the opening period.
But with veteran point guard Mahdi Kamrani leading the way, they found their groove in the second canto and went on to lead by as much as 25 points in the final period.
"There were three things today that were important. I asked my players, first, don't (allow) open shots. Second, don't (allow) fastbreak points, easy points, and also, control the boards," said Iran coach Mehmed Becirovic.
"We did good in all these things. We didn't start the game good, I don't know why, but later we came to the game with the right energy. We deserved to win, because we played much better for 30 minutes," he added.
Chinese Taipei, who ousted China in the quarterfinals Friday, made 10 of their 15 field goals in the opening period to take a 23-14 lead, but they went cold the rest of the half, making only three field goals in the second quarter.
Kamrani spearheaded Iran's charge in the second quarter, scoring 10 points and dishing out two assist in the period as the tournament favorites opened the frame with a 17-0 run to seize the lead.
Chinese Taipei went down by as much as 12 points in the second period, and only scored at the 3:30 mark via two free throws by naturalized player Quincy Davis.
They were able to end the quarter strong, however, and were down by just six, 35-41, at the half.
But with Kamrani and Oshin Sahakian at the helm, Iran reeled off eight unanswered points to begin third quarter and wound up scoring 29 points in the period, while holding Chinese Taipei to a paltry four points.
Chinese Taipei briefly threatened in the fourth period, cutting the lead to 17 points, 47-64. But their efforts to cut the deficit further were matched by baskets from Iran, including a triple by Hamed Afagh that gave Iran their largest lead at 75-70.
"Chinese Taipei is a very good team," said Becirovic. "They have until now, a very good tournament. After all, they beat China. That's why we were a little bit scared at the beginning. Also, they were making everything, their open shots."
"But later, they got tired and we controlled the game better," he said.
Iran will play the winner of the other semifinal encounter between hosts Philippines and South Korea in the championship game at the Mall of Asia Arena Sunday.
Chinese Taipei, meanwhile, will play the loser of that game in the third-place match.
Kamrani finished with a game high 19 points to go along with six assists, while making all seven of his two-point field goals. Hadadi had 17 points and 14 rebounds in just under 25 minutes of action.
Davis scored 16 points for Chinese Taipei, who were unable to find their range from beyond the arc after shooting so well in their first few games of the tournament. They made only four of their 24 three-point attempts, and were crushed on the boards, 24-47.
IRAN 79 - Kamrani 19, Hadadi 17, Sahakian 13, Afagh 10, Kardoust 8, Bahrami 8, Jamshidijafarabadi 2, Davoudichegani 2, Sohrabnejad 0
CHINESE TAIPEI 60 - Davis 16, Chen 11, Tsai 6, Tseng 6, Hung 5, Lu 5, Tien 4, Lin 3, Creighton 2, Yang 2, Chou 0
Quarter-scoring: 14-23, 41-35, 60-39, 79-60