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Basketball: Iran down hosts Philippines to win Asia Championship

Iran won their third Asia Championship, adding to wins in 2007 and 2009. Photos: Fiba.com.

Iran won their third Asia Championship, adding to wins in 2007 and 2009. Photos: Fiba.com.

August 11, 2013: Iran won the FIBA Asia Championship for the third time in four editions by beating hosts Philippines 85-71 in front of 20,000 fans at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay, Manila.

 

Despite missing star centre Marcus Douthit through injury, the Philippines gave the bigger Iranians a tough game. However, the visitors’ superior offensive rebounding proved the difference, with Hamed Haddadi racking up 16 rebounds.

 

The 2.18-metre Haddadi, the first Iranian player in the NBA, was named tournament MVP for the third time, adding to awards in 2007 and 2009 when Iran won their first two Asian titles.

 

“We had been waiting for this championship for two years,” said Haddadi, part of the side who finished fifth in the last championship in Wuhan, won by hosts China.

 

“I can’t wait to get this trophy back to my country. My team played hard together and it is the best feeling in the world.”

 

Jason ‘Castro’ William inspired the Philippines to a 20-19 lead early on before Iran pulled away to 32-23. A string of tough plays from Ranidel de Ocampo and William kept the ‘Gilas’ within reach, before a buzzer-beating triple from Larry Fonacier reduced the margin to a point at half-time and brought the crowd to fever pitch.

 

After William put the Philippines in front to open the third quarter, Iran’s offensive rebounding dominance began to show, with Haddadi tormenting the hosts to put his team 10 points in front.

 

Two three-pointers from Jim Alapag (13 points) and one from Jeff Chan re-ignited the home crowd and closed the gap to six, but Mahdi Kamrany nailed a triple on the buzzer to reaffirm Iran’s buffer at the last break. Without Douthit to anchor their offence, the Philippines ran out of ideas and energy, and Iran closed out the game.

 

Although the hosts were unable to win the title in front of their passionate fans, Philippines coach Chot Reyes was encouraged with automatic qualification to next year’s FIBA World Cup in Spain.

 

“If someone had told me two months ago that on August 11 we’d end up with silver medals, I would be very, very happy,” he said.

 

Korea joined Iran and Philippines in next year's World Cup in Spain.

Korea joined Iran and Philippines in next year’s World Cup in Spain.

Korea defeated Chinese Taipei 75-57 in the third-place playoff to secure Asia’s third and final spot at the World Cup.

 

After their heartbreaking loss to the Philippines in the semi-final, Korea responded by surging to a 21-point lead at half time and maintained a strong lead, with shooters Kim Min-goo and Cho Sung-min in good form.

 

“The players played so hard,” said Korea coach Yoo Jae-hak. “They have a passion to go to Spain.”

 

Haddadi was selected in the All-Tournament Team along with teammate Oshin Sahakian, William, Kim and Lin Chih-chieh of Chinese Taipei.

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