2013 FIBA Asia Championship: Iran overwhelms China in battle of heavyweights

Iran suffocated China on defense to emerge victorious, 70-51, on Saturday to finish Group C play in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship being held at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

Playmaker Samad Nikkah Bahrami sizzled in the first quarter as the Iranians built an early lead they would not relinquish the rest of the way.

China fell to 1-2, but they will enter Group F with a 0-2 slate as group wins over the eliminated teams will all be stricken off the record.

For the second straight game, China played without Yi Jianlian who is still nursing an injury.

Samad Nikkah Bahrami opened the game with a bank shot. Iran then forced a turnover that led to an Oshin Sahakian basket for a 4-0 count. Hamed Afagh scored a short jumper in the paint to extend the Iranian lead to six points.

Sun Yue was called for a foul on Nikkah Bahrami to the dismay of Chinese bench, resulting to a technical foul. Nikkah Bahrami sank three of the four free throws awarded to him for a 9-0 lead.

Liu Xiaoyu banked in a desperate jumper at the 5:32 mark of the first to finally put China on the board. Li Xaoxu followed this up a layup for a 9-4 count in favor of Iran, but Nikkah Bahrami connected with a triple and a layup at the 4:02 mark to build a 14-4 lead.

Wang Shipeng heated up with two triples later in the quarter, but Nikkah Bahrami handed two nifty passes to Asghar Kardoust for a 21-12 lead.

Even with Wang Shipeng hitting his third triple, Iran still led 26-16 at the end of the first quarter.

Hamed Haddadi finally scored his first points of the game with the two handed dunk at the 7:17 mark of the second. Wang Zhizhi replied with a triple, but Hadadi completed a three point play for 31-20 count.

Free throws from Haddadi and Sahakian stretched Iran’s lead to 15 at 39-24 with two minutes left in the first half. Iran ended the second quarter ahead 41-24. Nikkah Bahrami had 10 points and six assists while Sahakian had 11 points and five rebounds for Iran at the half.

China, on the other hand, was led by Wang Shipeng with nine points off three triples, although he failed to score during Iran’s second quarter run.

Iran also dominated the glass having 17 rebounds to only 11 for China.

The Chinese opened the second half with five straight points, with the last three off a long bomb from Wang Zhizhi to cut the Iran lead down to 12 at 41-29.

Afagh heated up for back to back triples midway through the third period to give Iran a 50-35 lead. Mahdi Kamrani added a breakaway and-one at the 1:12 mark for a 54-37 lead, but China scored four straight points to close the quarter.

Iran led 54-41 heading into the final frame.

The Chinese tried to use the momentum for a fourth quarter rally but they had no antidote to the playmaking of Nikkah Bahrami and the dominance of Haddadi.

Two free throws by Aren Davoudichegani at the 4:42 mark gave Iran a even 20-point lead at 63-43 and end all hopes of a Chinese comeback.

By GMA News


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