FIBA Asia 2015, China and Philippines clash for gold

FIBA Asia 2015The championship game of the FIBA Asia 2015 tournament has been set, with host nation China set to clash with the Philippines in the showpiece game. The gold medal game was set after China used it home strength to overcome reigning champions Iran in the last four, while the Philippines downed Japan in the other semi-final contest.

The final will now be contested between the two most successful nations in the history of the competition, but there can only be one winner at FIBA Asia 2015. China will be hunting its record 16th title in Changsha on Sunday, while the Philippines will be aiming for gold medal number six from this competition.

China vs. Iran, 70-57
Since it became clear that Iran and China could meet in the last four it seemed this clash was destined to happen, and so it proved. A perfect storm that saw the winningest nation China (15 titles) play the defending champs and current dominant force, Iran (3 titles from last four tournaments). It was also interesting as these were the two best teams in the competition too.

However, it actually turned out to be a surprisingly one sided game as China continued to grow and Iran simply wilted, with its title defense ending with a whimper. The hosts started strong with a 21-12 run in the first quarter and from there seemed confident with the lead, extending to 39-29 through halftime. In the third act China added to its double digit advantage with a 19-15 run that made it 58-44 through thirty minutes. The hosts then eased down the straight to the win, continuing to cut off the Iranian offensive supply, cutting the visitors to just two assists through the entire game.

Jianlian Li led China with 13 points and 8 rebounds, while Peng Zhou added 12 points in the win.

Only two of Iran’s players stepped up, Mohammed Bahrami with a game high 18 points and 7 rebounds, and Hamed Haddadi with a double-double of 16 points and 13 boards.

Japan vs. Philippines, 70-81
While the two giants fought it out in the other game, the Philippines and Japan knew they had a chance to make the championship game with a good performance. The Philippines, who have been growing into the competition and recently defeated Iran, took the initiative and the victory. Fitting perhaps as the country if something of a fallen giant, with its 5th and last title coming way back in 1985.

The Philippines went 26 years without even making the final four, but in 2011 the nation finished 4th and in 2013 was the runner up. In other words the Philippines has been building to this and will provide a test for China in the championship decider. Here the teams could not be separated in the first half, splitting quarters (17-16 and 22-23) to be locked at 39 apiece through the long break. In the third act it was the same story as a tied score of 15-15 made it 54-54 through thirty minutes. In the fourth stanza the Philippines hit hard and poured 27 points through the nets in a blazing finale that won the game.

Andray Blatche doubled up to lead the winners with 22 points and 13 rebounds, while Jayson William added 20 points and Dondon Hontiveros was good for 18 points.

Makato Hiejima led the scoring with a 28 point haul for the losing effort, followed by Joji Takeuchi with a double-double of 18 points and 16 rebounds for Japan.

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