FIBA Asia 2015, Preliminary Round results

FIBA Asia 2015The first group stage of the FIBA Asia 2015 tournament has been completed and eight nations have progressed to Group E and F after three days of play.

In Group A Iran cemented its reputation as team to beat as the champions tore apart Malaysia, while Japan joined Iran in the next phase with a win over India. Group B saw the Philippine school Kuwait to progress, with Palestine also heading through with a somewhat surprising unbeaten record. China has been solid and efficient and the hosts moved forward from Group C with a 100% record in tow, while neighbours South Korea also took its place in the next group stage by beating Singapore. Group D has proved tight, but Qatar qualified despite a loss to Taiwan and Lebanon had too much for Kazakhstan to book its spot in the next stage.

Group A
Reigning champions Iran made easy work of Group A to get its title defence off to the perfect start, demolishing Malaysia 42-122 to stay undefeated. Iran moves to the next round while Malaysia crash out without a single victory. Iran put on a Basketball school as they pulled in 62 rebounds, dished out 25 assists, and held Malaysia to just eight points through the first twenty minutes of the game. Mohammed Hassanzadeh had a double-double of 28 points and 18 rebounds in the winning effort.

Japan carried its momentum from the destruction of Malaysia yesterday to defeat India 65-83 to progress to the next round of the FIBA Asia 2015 tournament. While the teams were evenly matched statistically (similar for rebounds and assists), Japan was simply more clinical through the bucket. Japan shot 53% from two points distance while India managed just 35%, while the Japanese also hit 75% of their free throws. Joji Takeuchi topped Japan with 22 points and 19 rebounds for a game winning double-double.

Group B
The Philippines eased into the second round with a comfortable 64-110 masterclass against Kuwait during day 3 of the FIBA Asia 2015. The Philippines started hot with an 11-34 blitz in the opening frame, and from there never looked back and win through each stanza of the game. Kuwait lost ground off the glass, only picking up 23 rebounds during the game while the Philippines grabbed 48 boards. Terrence Bill Romeo’s 19 points led a well-rounded Philippine offence that dished out 14 assists during the game.

Palestine was far from favourite before the competition started, but the nation swept into the second round undefeated with a 79-85 win over Hong Kong. This was Palestine’s patchiest game, but still they will now be a dangerous foe as the tournament progresses. The first half won the game, with Palestine carving a 36-52 lead through the long break, which meant the team could afford to lose the fourth quarter 29-16 as Hong Kong rallied to make it closer than it should have been.

Group C
Host nation China is among the favourites for the competition, but while other leading nations have been impressive the Chinese have been steady and content to get the job done. Nevertheless, China moves to the next phase unblemished after downing Jordan 84-67 in game 3. China’s sheer consistency on the score board was enough to win the game, with the hosts winning each frame (23-22, 16-12, 22-17, and 23-16) to extend its lead as the game progressed. Jianlian Li led the Chinese with a double-double of 26 points and 14 rebounds.

South Korea progressed to the second stage with a 45-87 win over winless Singapore on Friday. The contest was never in doubt at Korea controlled from the opening tip off to the final buzzer, using a 21-45 halftime lead to build a big second half in which the Koreans plundered a further 42 points to seal a berth in the next round. Korea’s unselfish attack dished out 22 assists during the game while there were two double-double in the ranks from Jong Kyu Kim (17 points and 10 rebounds) and Jun-Yong Choi (10 points and 10 boards).

Group D
Lebanon topped the closest group in the Preliminary Stage by beating Kazakhstan 55-91 to win Group D, while their opponents slipped out of the competition. Kazakhstan opened a 16-15 lead through ten minutes, but in the second stanza Lebanon went hot at the bucket while tightening in defence for an 8-26 run to lead 24-41 through the long break. In the second half Lebanon eased down the straight with a convincing performance led by Jasmon Youngblood with 30 points and 8 rebounds.

Qatar missed the chance to stay undefeated by losing 64-72 to Taiwan, but the country still managed to punch a ticket to the next round. Taiwan restored pride after two consecutive defeats, rallying in the second half with a strong defensive display, which included 36 rebounds at the back. Through the midway rest Qatar was on course with a 36-28 advantage, but Taiwan put together an 11-20 run in the third and then saw out the contest in the final act.

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