JOHOR BAHRU (FIBA Asia U16 Championship) - Bahrain pulled a rabbit out of the hat beating Japan in the nick of time even as leading contenders Iran, Korea, China and Syria all posted their second wins from as many games in as many days on Day Two of the inaugural FIBA Asia U16 Championship at Stadium Bandaraya on Friday.
Bahrain’s 85-84 against Japan win threw open the qualifying chances in Group C especially after Philippines showed flair in offense and faultlessness in defense to beat the much taller Kazakhstan 76-50.
In Group D, Iran proved too tall and talented for Thailand winning their second successive game 71-37 and Chinese Taipei found their first win in the Championship by way of a 114-78 verdict over Malaysia.
Group C witnessed Syria and Korea both winning their second game on the trot thus setting up a clash with each other to decide the pool toppers. Syria conserved themselves for that big on the morrow while beating Singapore 71-58, but Korea showed no mercy to Kuwait cantering through 91-50.
The day began with a game in Group A and ended with one. In the opening game of the day India outsmarted Saudi Arabia 80-44 and China ended the day rolling past Jordan 117-44, thus taking a decisive step towards topping the pool.
China’s dominating performance against a none-too-weak opposition like Jordan spoke more than the lop-sided score-line.
The Asian giants scored the first eight points of the game, then weaved a tight web of defense around Jordan allowing the latter to touch double-digits only during the closing moments of the first quarter and thus underlined their intentions in the Championship.
All the Chinese players were on the court for at least nine minutes, and all of them scored.
Shi Hongfei was the leader of this Chinese all-round attack with a blistering 86% field record (6/7, including a 4/5 in three-pointers) for his 16 points.
Guo Ailun shared a game-high five assists – with teammate Wang Zirui – to add value to his 15 points.
Ju Mingxin and Wei Dong both collected a game-high six boards each with the former also adding 13 points.
Malek Kanaan’s game-high 17 points in Jordan’s favour in the circumstances broke the monotony.
India shut Saudi Arabia almost completely in the second quarter and grimly hung on for their maiden win.
After an edgy first ten minutes, when they led 18-11, the Indian boys began to execute coach Aleksandar Bucan’s plans with far better coordination, especially in defense, in the second quarter.
As a result Saudi Arabia were allowed to score a mere three points in the entire second quarter, while India scored 13.
Saudi Arabia did manage to regain their bearings in the second half and kept the scoring even in the final two quarters, but could not make up for the second quarter deficit.
Shyam Sunder scored seven of his 11 points in the second quarter and made the pivotal contribution to India’s win.
Filipino flair takes them past Kazakhstan
Japan suffered a heart-breaking last-gasp defeat for the second day running, but their hopes of progress received a shot in the arm when Philippines defeated Kazakhstan in the game that followed.
Japan now will have to beat Kazakhstan by a sizable margin to keep themselves in the race. Should Bahrain win against Philippines on Saturday the calculators will be buzzing to identify the qualifiers from Group B.
Filipino Kiefer Ravena top scored the game yet again, but his 23 points were better spread out as against the second half show he came up with against Japan.
Kazakhstan, on the other hand, struggled to retain the momentum of their opening day win over Bahrain.
An 18-10 scoring advantage in the final five minutes marked Bahrain’s win against Japan.
Ali Ahmed Jamal was the leader of the Bahrain charge with a game-high 29 points.
Japan, like they did on Thursday, began well and seemed to head comfortably, before squandering their position.
Syria-Korea clash for Group toppers spot
Proceedings in Group C headed towards a logical conclusion after Syria and Korea both won their second outings in the Championship.
Syria played at less than their normal pace, yet proved better to Singapore.
Singaporean Larry Liew’s 15 points was the top score for the game, but the honour of leading a winning cause went to Muhammad Otabachi.
Otabachi, scored six of his team-high 13 points in the third quarter, a period during which Syria took the game beyond Singapore’s reach.
Korea hit the cruise mode early and encountered no trouble as Huiwon Han and Hyeongjun Kim caught the eye with their impressive field records.
Han returned 6/9, including a 4/7 in three pointers for his 15 points. And Kim had 5/8, all his successes coming in the form of three-pointers in his 17.
Hussain Shuaib and Abdulrahman Alshammari continued to hold Kuwait’s fort, but there was very little support from the others.
Iran canter past Thailand
Iran dished out yet another display of clinical, but attractive, basketball leaving Thailand gasping.
And the manner in which Ghasem Kiani’s boys earned Iran their second win from as many games reflected the development process implemented by the WABA giants in recent times.
Mir Fattahi and Soheil Yousefi, without any arguments, two of the more talented players on show at the Championship were at the forefront of the Iranian barrage.
Taipei, who lost to Iran on the opening day bounced back into contention with their comprehensive win against the hosts. Malaysia, who beat Thailand just after the Opening Ceremony now face the mighty Iranians.
Loh Shee Wong fought a lonely, therefore losing, battle with an incredible game-high 34 points. More importantly, the youngster played all the 40 minutes of the game.
Chen Ying-chun’s team-high 24 points, on the other hand, found a lot of support from his teammates.
China 117 (Shi Hongfei 16, Guo Ailun 15, Ju Mingxin 13, Gao Shang 13, Zhu Huxang 13) bt Jordan 44 (Malek Kanaan 17). Quarterwise Scores: 31-10, 54-26, 94-37.
India 55 (Ankit Panigrahi 55, Shyam Sunder 11) bt Saudi Arabia 40 (Nassir Abojalas 14). Quarterwise Scores: 18-11, 31-14, 48-31, 55-40.
Bahrain 85 (Ali Ahmed Jamal 29, Sayed Hasan Ali 18, Fadhel Mohammed 13, Hanafi Subah Husain 12, Mansoor Hussain 10) bt Japan 84 (Tsukasa Tano 19, Taiki Uehara 18, Ryo Tawatari 13, Hikaru Tanaka 11). Quarterwise Scores: 25-27, 35-46, 54-68.
Philippines 76 (Kiefer Ravena 23, Von Pessumal 12) bt Kazakhstan 50 (Alexey Kuruchka 16, Alexander Zhigulin 11). Quarterwise Scores: 16-14, 35-24, 49-37.
Korea 91 (Huiwon Han 17, Hyeongjun Kim 15, Seunghwook Choi 12, Jonghyun Lee 12, Dongyeop Lee 11) bt Kuwait 50 (Hussain Shuaib 16, Abdulrahman Alshammari 14). Quarterwise Scores: 27-10, 58-18, 76-37.
Syria 71 (Muhammad Otabachi 13) bt Singapore 58 (Larry Liew 15, Russel Low 11, Remus Low 10). Quarterwise Scores: 13-12, 29-22, 52-40.
Iran 76 (Mir Fattahi 20, Soheil Yousefi 20) bt Thailand 31 (Paramet Kongsang 9). Quarterwise Scores: 13-8, 26-16, 51-24.
Chinese Taipei 114 (Chen Ying-chun 24, Wang-Jen-chieh 19, Chen Kuan-chuan 18, Wu Chia-chun 14, Chung Wei-ping 12) bt Malaysia 78 (Lohg Shee Wong 34). Quarterwise Scores: 28-8, 49-30, 78-52.