FIBA Asia Championship winners Iran joined China and Jordan as Asian contingent for Turkey
The 2009 FIBA Asia Championship took place in China, where 16 teams battled it out to determine Asia’s strongest basketball nation, while the tournament also served as a qualifier to the 2010 FIBA World Championship.
Iran successfully defended their title, and were joined by China and Jordan in ensuring qualification for Turkey.
Eight teams emerged from the qualification round to battle it out in the knock-out stages.
Convincing quarter-final wins saw Iran beat Qatar 75-65, Jordan beat the Philippines 81-70 and China eliminate Chinese Taipei 101-83.
In the last quarter-final, Lebanon narrowly overcame Korea 68-65 in a captivating encounter. The first two quarters finished with either side one point ahead, while the teams began the final period neck and neck (49-49). But a great start to the fourth saw Lebanon quickly take a ten point lead and despite a late surge of three-pointers from Korea, Lebanon held on to book their place in the semis.
In a rematch of the 2007 final, Iran took on Jordan in a semi-final that proved to be their closest contest of the Championship. Getting off to a solid start, Iran looked comfortable at the halfway point (40-27).
But Jordan put in a powerful third quarter performance, doubling their score and putting them within two points of Iran. In a frantic fourth quarter, with one minute left on the clock, Enver Soobzokov scored a three-pointer to put Lebanon in the lead for only the second time in the game.
A free throw from Iran put them back on level terms before game high-scorer Nikkhah (23) put them a further two points ahead. In a nail-biting final ten seconds, Jordan had two chances at squaring things up and forcing overtime, but failed to score on both occasions.
The game finished 77-75 in favour of the Iranians, who made it through to their second successive final.
The other semi-final opposed China and Lebanon. The Lebanese got off to a good start leading up to a decent first quarter lead (18-14). China replied with two strong quarters, putting themselves five points ahead entering the final ten minutes.
Jordan once again came up with a reply as, midway through the final period, they put themselves in front by one. In tight situations like this, you expect your experienced players to step up to the occasion.
And, luckily for China, that is exactly what happened. Wang Zhizhi and Yi Jianlian, whose contributions proved to be decisive, combined well in the final minutes as China pulled away to win the game 72-68.
The game’s best player was arguably Jackson Vroman, whose high score of 27 and ten rebounds, kept Lebanon in the game until the very end.
The bronze medal game had the added incentive of a place in the 2010 World Championships and although Lebanon got off to a flying start, going into the second quarter with a 9 point lead, Jordan fought back strongly, outscoring Lebanon in each of the three remaining quarters for a comfortable 80-66 win and the last available FIBA Asia ticket to Turkey.
When Iran won the title in the 2007 FIBA Asia Championship at Tokushima, one question remained unanswered: could Iran have won if China had played with their full team?
The final proved that they most probably would have. Iran certainly didn’t waste time in getting going as they powered to a 21-10 lead after the first period. The second was much the same, as they worked their way to a 42-25 lead at the halfway point of the game.
And although China managed to steady the ship, at no point did any sort of a comeback ever seem likely. The third quarter was shared 14-14, while the fourth narrowly went Iran’s way 14-13.
With a final score of 70-52, never had any team dominated a FIBA Asia gold medal game against China the way Veselin Matic’s men did in front a capacity crowd, which began to dissipate as the fourth quarter began.
The shift in power, that had started two years previously, was now complete as China lost their first ever gold medal game in FIBA Asia Championship history, and Iran solidly cemented themselves as the new dominant force in Asian basketball in securing their second successive FIBA Asia title.
5. Chinese Taipei
12. United Arab Emirates
16. Sri Lanka
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