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Iran wins Fiba-Asia Cup; Gilas Pilipinas takes third place.

WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS: Iran celebrates with the champion trophy and gold medals. (Photos courtesy of Fiba-Asia)

From left, Beau Belga, Kevin Alas, Japeth Aguilar and Ranidel de Ocampo mob Paul Lee (partly hidden) after the Rain or Shine guard hit three free throws to lift Gilas Pilipinas to an 80-79 victory over China in the bronze medal game.


MANILA: Too big, too agile and too good, Iran ruled another event that validated its lofty standing in Asia.

Starring the talented Hamed Hadadi and upcoming Mohammad Jamshidi, the Iranians on Saturday night proved too much for a young Chinese-Taipei squad to handle, with an 89-79 win allowing Iran to retain the Fiba-Asia Cup at the Wuhan Gymnasium in Wuhan, China.

Hadadi, the National Basketball Association veteran with the Memphis Grizzlies, scored 21 points and had eight rebounds, while Jamshidi sustained his tournament-long offensive brilliance with 20 as the Iranians played with control for practically the entire match.

It was the second straight championship for the Iranians in the region counting their triumph over Gilas Pilipinas in the gold medal match of the World Cup Qualifying held last August in Manila.

And the Iranians pulled it out without dropping a game, even without top gunner Nikka Bahrami and flamboyant point guard Mhadi Kamrani

Quincy Davis III, Taipei's naturalized center, fired 19 points that went with 12 rebounds and Chun Chen-Ying added 16 for Taipei, which played in its first Fiba-Asia title game for the first time since 1963

"We achieved two things today," said Iran coach Memi Becirovic. "We were able to try out a lot of new things (for the team for future events) and we still controlled the score."

Becirovic said that he is very happy as he had a host of players stepping up at the guard and forward positions, most notable among them Jamshidi, who spent his first stint in the national team watching Bahrami dominate in Manila.

"We have been trying out various things with our guards. None of these guys were starting guards in our main team," Becirovic said. "In fact, I'm very happy the way they worked. It wasn't perfect, but it was never meant to be. We aimed making progress and we achieved that."

Meanwhile, Gilas Pilipinas booked its highest-ever finish in the biennial event earlier after Paul Lee drained three free throws with no time left for an 80-79 victory over China in the bronze medal match.

Lee, who didn't play anywhere near the rookie internationalist that he is, faked two defenders while trying to attempt a three-pointer and drew a foul from top Chinese gunner Kelan Makan as the buzzer sounded.

Cool and calculating as a hired gun, Lee swished the three free throws and after the last one dropped, members of Team Philippines rushed inside the court in jubilation while sending the Chinese into a fit of agony.

The play Lee took was very similar to the one he tried pulling off for Rain or Shine in Game 1 of the Elasto Painters' PBA Governors' Cup title series with eventual champion San Mig Coffee.

And the big difference this time was that he got the call to the dismay of a rather large gallery that rooted for their home team the whole game.

China could have avoided that kind of an endgame if starting point guard Zirui Wang made his charities on the other end with just 6.2 seconds remaining off a foul by Ranidel De Ocampo.

Marcus Douthit, the Philippines' naturalized center since 2009, grabbed the rebound after the second miss, found LA Tenorio, who in turn flicked a pass to Lee for that game-winning fake off the Chinese double team.

"We made our own luck after those missed free throws by the Chinese," Gilas coach Chot Reyes said. "Paul's free throws were certainly a great show of skill and temperament."

Unlike in the first four games, Lee struggled in the Philippines' last two offensively, counting a four-point production in a 76-55 loss to Iran in the Final Four.

He wasn't having a great day until the final 6.2 seconds.

De Ocampo paced the Philippines with 18 points, Douthit had 10 and 17 rebounds and Japeth Aguilar contributed 14.

Makan had 23 points and was the hero for the Chinese until he committed that glaring foul on Lee.

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Publication:Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Geographic Code:90ASI
Date:Jul 20, 2014
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