The last eight teams of the FIBA Asian Championships U18 have been decided after a day of impactful Basketball in Tehran. The Iranian capital city has provided a backdrop for exciting hoops, and Wednesday saw the competing nations bring it to the court. By the end of the evening the Quarterfinals had been locked and we now look towards the knockout stages of the Asian Championships U18 tournament.
Included in the last eight picture is China, the reigning champions. The Chinese have enjoyed dominating the Asian Championships U18 in recent years and has won the last three consecutive tournaments. It is hard to bet against the country for a fourth win in as many attempts and a record enhancing 12th overall.
On Wednesday, China was much too strong for Thailand and waltzed into the 1/8 with a 98-51 success paced by Runwang Du with 18 points. The Chinese finished with seven players in double digits and other nations need to figure out how to stop a daring offence that has no problem sharing points around the team. The Chinese are 5-0 in the tournament and look frankly untouchable.
Iran is arguably the best poised to end China’s iron grip on the competition. The nation is enjoying host status and playing well, overcoming Lebanon 76-54 to punch its ticket to the next round. The Iranians will be out for revenge after losing to China in the finals in the last Asian Championships U18 edition and is hunting its third crown after the success in 2004 and 2008. Interestingly, that 2008 win came in Tehran, so Iran has gold history while playing at home.
South Korean and the Philippines will play each other in the quarterfinals. The Philippines is the second winningest country in tournament history, with six titles, but the nation is without a gold since 1982. The team is thriving this week and eased into the next round with a huge 105-82 win over India on Day 5. South Korea looked even more impressive and snapped a century of points to demolish Indonesia 107-56 and is now 4-1 in this week.
Despite its huge loss, India will play against Lebanon in the next round. Neither nation is exactly thriving, but you have to be in it to win it. This is now a knockout competition and in one game anything can happen. One of these countries is guaranteed a berth in the semifinals and from there it just takes one special performance to reach the showpiece game. The fact India and Lebanon play each other means one of these is a genuine dark horse.
Taiwan and Japan enter the quarterfinals with victories at their backs. Like India and Lebanon, there is now a clear path to the final four without having to meet the big guns of the competition. Both these nations are showing offensive strengths, so they should not be underestimated and from this point should be eyeing a title push.