MANILA (FIBA Asia Championship/FIBA Basketball World Cup) - It is crunch time at the FIBA Asia Championship, with Quarter-Final match-ups to be decided by a thrilling day of basketball on Wednesday.
Korea continued their steady march towards the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup with a convincing 71-47 win over Kazakhstan, in the process locking up second place in Group F with one day remaining.
Kim Sunhyung was perfect from the field on his way to 14 points, while exciting youngster Kim Mingoo pitched in with 14 points and six rebounds. For Kazakhstan, only the naturalised Jerri Jonson (15 points, 6/7 field goals) could make inroads into the Korean defense.
The Philippines kept their hopes of finishing atop Group E alive with a stunning 80-70 demolition of the previously undefeated Qatar.
Through the centre pairing of Marcus Douthit (19 points, 14 rebounds) and Japeth Aguilar (14 points, 7 rebounds) the host nation overpowered Qatar and then ran them off their feet on the way to a 23-point third-quarter lead.
Behind Jarvis Hayes (17 points, 11 rebounds) the Qataris restored some respectability in the fourth period but the damage had been done.
The result sets up a crucial final day clash between Qatar and Chinese Taipei, with potential for those teams to join the Philippines in a three-way tie for first place if Qatar prevails.
Taipei kept their unbeaten run to the Quarter-Finals alive but only just, escaping a brave Japanese challenge with a 79-76 win.
Tseng Wen-Ting was again the star with 19 points and a number of crucial plays in the third term when Japan threatened to skip away, while the classy Lin Chih-Chieh (16 points, 6 rebounds) was also impressive.
Kosuke Takeuchi led Japan with 17 points and seven rebounds and was ably supported by JR Sakuragi (10 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists).
Japan face a do-or-die encounter with Jordan on Wednesday to decide who continues on the road to Spain - and who will take on Iran in Friday's Quarter-Finals - following the Middle Eastern nation's 80-54 defeat of Hong Kong.
Mohammad Hadrab starred with 21 points and seven rebounds as nine Jordanians pulled in four or more boards in a 51-34 hammering of Hong Kong on the glass.
Iran remains undefeated in Group F with the World Cup in their sights, but they received a surprising challenge from Bahrain before prevailing 75-56 in the day's second game.
After trailing by 18 points midway through the second quarter, the Bahrainis unleashed a staggering 19-4 run to pull within three at half-time.
But the quartet of Samad Nikkhah Bahrami (17 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists), Hamed Afagh (15 points), Mahdi Kamrany (9 points, 11 assists) and Hamed Hadadi (9 points, 8 rebounds) stood tall in the third to end the resistance.
China made light work of India
79-45 and can now assure themselves of a place in the Quarter-Finals by defeating Bahrain on the final day of the Second Round. However, if Bahrain can upset the defending champs, a three-way tie with Kazakhstan appears likely.
In the Classification Round, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia recorded their first win of the tournament with a 93-80 victory over Thailand.
For full and in-depth coverage of the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship, go to the official website http://manila2013.fibaasia.net.