Source : FIBA.com
MANILA (FIBA Asia Championship) - Iran and the Philippines have shown Asia will be strongly represented at next year’s FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain with a high quality FIBA Asia Championship Title Game in front of 19,989 fans in Manila.
Despite missing star centre Marcus Douthit through injury, the Philippines gave the bigger Iranians all they could handle before falling 85-71, succumbing to a constant offensive rebounding disadvantage.
"We had been waiting for this championship for two years," said Iran centre Hamed Hadadi, who was named the tournament's MVP.
"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."
Philippines coach Chot Reyes walked away with a smile on his face and convinced Iran would be a formidable opponent for any team at Spain 2014.
"Unfortunately it ended the way it did, but 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.
"Iran is a great, great team. They have been together since 2006 or 2007 and it showed in the way they played."
Both teams were represented in the All-Tournament Team, with the Philippines' Jason 'Castro' William (18 points), and Iran's Oshin Sahakian (12 points, 12 rebounds) and Hadadi (29 points, 16 rebounds) rewarded for their outstanding performances.
Young star Kim Mingoo of Korea - Asia's third qualified team for Spain 2014 - was also selected in the first five, alongside exciting Chinese Taipei swingman Lin Chih-Chieh.
Early in the Final, Iran's zone defense made life difficult for the Philippines, and with Samad Nikkhah Bahrami (19 points, 7 assists) in his usual destructive mood, the 2007 and 2009 champions threatened to pull clear.
But as he so often has this tournament, Castro ignited his team, with seven quick points surrounding quarter-time putting the Philippines ahead 20-19.
Slowly though, Iran's all-around game began to take its toll on the hosts, clinically executing in transition and feeding Hadadi close to the hoop in the half-court to extend their lead to 32-23.
A string of tough plays from Ranidel de Ocampo and Castro kept the Gilas within reach, and then a buzzer-beating triple from Larry Fonacier brought the crowd to fever pitch and reduced the margin to a solitary point at half-time.
After Castro put the Philippines in front to open the third term the Iranians offensive rebounding dominance began to show, Hadadi in particular 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 centre their offenae around the Philippines seemed to run out of ideas as fatigue set in, Iran showing the class of a championship team to close the game out.
"We are still happy," Castro said.
"We have achieved our objective of making it to Spain."
For the 23rd time, Korea have finished on the podium at the FIBA Asia Championship, defeating Chinese Taipei 75-57 in the Third-Place Game to earn a spot at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
When they compete in Spain in 2014, it will be their first appearance in FIBA's flagship event since 1998.
"This is my second world championship after 16 years," said an excited Kim Joo-Sung, who played back then in the tourament held in Greece.
"I am really excited and I would love to go to this thing right now."
Showing little ill-effects of the previous night's heartbreaking Semi-Final loss to the Philippines, the Koreans rode the hot shooting of Cho Sungmin (11 points) to a 29-13 quarter-time lead and fended off every Taipei challenge on their way to victory.
Where Cho left off exciting young star Kim Mingoo picked up the slack, unveiling an array of moves on his way to 21 points on 57 per cent shooting.
Kim Joo-Sung finished with 12 points and eight rebounds, while point guard Yang Donggeun (9 points, 8 assists) was his usual dependable self.
For Chinese Taipei, only Lu Cheng-Ju (13 points) and Quincy Davis III (12 points, 8 rebounds) reached double figures.
Korea jumped to a 14-5 lead midway through the first term as Yang hit the ground running, then eight points and two assists from Cho in the final five minutes blew the game open.
"They came out shooting the ball exceptionally well from the three-point line and we just couldn’t get it together defensively," said Taipei centre Davis.
While Taipei briefly closed to within 11 in the second period, Cho nailed another triple and then Kim went to work, his brilliant up-fake and score in the lane one of the plays of the game.
"Number four (Kim Mingoo), that young player is incredible," Taipei coach Hsu Chin-Tse said in awe after the game.
When Korea's young tyro nailed two big three-pointers to finish the half the margin was 21 at the long break.
Taipei turned on the defense in the third quarter, keeping Korea without a field goal for almost six minutes, but they couldn’t capitalise at the other end and still trailed by 17 with 10 minutes to play.
From there Korea cruised to victory and a place at Spain 2014.
"The players played so hard, they have a passion to go to Spain," said Korea coach Yoo Jae-Hak.