FIBA: 5 times Champion Philippines’ recent victories over Kazakhstan and Korea defeated by 3 times champion Iran for gold

Iran players celebrate after winning the 27th FIBA Asian Men's Basketball Championship in Manila yesterday.

Iran routed the Philippines 85-71 to bag gold at the 27th FIBA Asian men's basketball championship yesterday, powered by NBA centre Hamed Haddadi.

The seven-foot two-inch Haddadi was simply too much inside the paint for the Philippine side, scoring 29 points to lead all players.

Haddadi, the first Iran-born player in the US National Basketball Association, also grabbed 16 rebounds as he towered over his opponents. The speedy Filipinos made a valiant effort, and were playing without injured centre Marcus Douthit.

It was Iran's third gold at the Asian championship. The Philippines are five-times champions, though their last victory came back in 1985.

Iran, the Philippines and third-placed South Korea, who lost to the Philippines in the semis, will go to the FIBA world championships in Spain next year.

The Philippines trailed by as much as nine points before clawing back to 34-35 at half time led by point guard Jayson William.

The home team played in front of a crowd of about 20,000, with President Benigno Aquino and other top government officials at courtside to cheer them on.

The raucous fans however were silenced as Haddadi repeatedly clobbered them inside the paint with his low post play and put backs.

China beat Qatar

China ended their campaign with a 96-85 victory over Qatar, finishing fifth. The only chance for the former Asian Champion to play in next year's Basketball World Cup in Spain is a wildcard awarded by FIBA.

"We wanted to play the final so it's not good for us to play this match," said Panagiotis Giannakis, head coach of China. "But I think we learnt many things from this tournament. We have the opportunity to become stronger in the future."

A 13-0 run in the beginning of the second half helped China to enlarge their lead, which was only five points by halftime. The 15-time Asian Champion never let the match slip away from their hands from then on.

It was a tight game at the start of the first, with Wang Zhizhi building a three-point lead off a Yi Jianlian assist with six minutes and 20 seconds remaining, 9-6.

But Mohammed Saleem Abdullah and Mansour Elhadary then went on a 7-0 run for Qatar, building one-point lead after the first quarter. Wang Zhizhi then anchored a 15-4 run to start the second period.

Qatar responded with a 15-5 run to tie the game at 40-all.Wang Shipeng and Zhu Fangyu had the last say in the second, giving China a 45-40 lead at the half.

Guo Ailun led China with 21 points and five assists. Veteran Wang Zhizhi finished his last Asian Championship game with a 13-point and 11-rebound double-double.

Yi Jianlian took 12 while Wang Shipeng and Zhufangyu combined for 24. China suffered a shocking loss to Chinese Taipei in Friday's quarter-finals, leading them to their second worst result in Asian Championships.

"We need to summarize after returning back to China," said Yi. "Not only today's match. Not only this tournament. It's for a long time."

"During the tournament we didn't improve as I wanted," said Giannakis. "We lost our concentrations sometimes and we lost the chance to the final. But I think we will become smarter with more experiences."

INQUIRER & Gulf Times

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