Iran successfully defended their Asia Champions crown last night, dropping favored-China in a laughable 70-52 win.
Led by Memphis Grizzly center Hamed Haddadi‘s 19 points and 17 rebounds, Iran dominated the Chinese in the first two quarters; outscoring their opponents by 11 in the first quarter and by six in the second.
The Iranians took a 17-point lead into halftime, see the lead balloon up to 25, and would never look back. This was China’s first ever loss in an Asiabasket gold medal match.
This year’s win is significant because it signals a new age in which Middle-Asia teams, namely Iran, Jordan and Lebanon, may have finally caught up with their East Asian brothers.
Up until 2007, China had won 14 of 16 Asia Championships. And East Asian teams, the Philippines, Korea, and Japan, have taken the title in every other year previous to 2007.
Iran’s win is much more significant this year because they went against a Chinese team, even without Yao Ming, that was still favored to win the tournament.
In Iran’s win in the 2007 Asiabasket, the Chinese fielded their junior team, having already automatically qualified as the hosts of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Hamed Haddadi, who was named MVP of the tournament, shot 9-17 from the field, shredding the Chinese interior and scoring 9 points in 12-4 run in the fourth quarter that slammed the door shut on any thoughts of a Chinese comeback.
Samad Nikkhah Bahrami, who came in averaging over 18 points, failed to reach double-figures for the first time in the tournament, finishing with just 8 points. The star guard did pass out 6 assists.
Wang Zhizhi was China’s only consistent threat, the former NBA player shot 10-16 from the field, and scored a game-hih 24 points and added 8 rebounds.
In the third place game, Jordan took the final berth to the World Championships by defeating Lebanon for the second time this tournament, 80-66.
Lebanon finished without a medal for the first time in three championships, having earned a silver in the 2005 and 2007 FIBA Asia Championships.
In the classification rounds, Chinese-Taipei took fifth place over Qatar 87-79, while Korea edged the Philippines, 82-80 on Donggeun Yang’s jumper with one second remaninig.
RP’s James Yap’s missed a three at the buzzer that would give Korea seventh place, and the Philippines would finish eighth.