Boxscores | Photo gallery | Post Game press conference
TOKUSHIMA (FIBA Asia Championship) - Hamed Ehadadi's height came to Iran's advantage yet again this time in defense, as the West Asian nation powered their way past Qatar 95-87 to take the second semifinal spot from Group E of the Quarterfinal round on Wednesday.
Iran, now take on co-semifinal travelers Lebanon on Thursday, to decide who finishes on top of the group.
Ehahadadi's performance was of vintage basketball. The Paykan Tehran center scored only five points, but collected nine rebounds - all in defense that effectively stopped any second shots for Qatar. And more importantly, he utilized his 213cm height to repeatedly block any inside shooting attempt.
Qatar were belligerent and brainstorming in their attempts to take the fight to the Iranian camp, but time and again, Ehadadi stood impersonating an almost impregnable by checking, blocking - or on occasions fouling - to stop those attempts. As a result, Qatar managed to even level scores only one occasion during the course of the game - when they capped their longest scoring spree of seven points at 33-all.
Meanwhile, Nikkah brothers - Aidin and Mohammad - kept the scoreboard moving for Iran. Aidin top scored the game with 25 points and the younger Mohammad accounted for 14 points along with collecting six rebounds, as Iran who surged 11-0 ahead early in the game and never looked back.
"I think the boys translated their confidence into performance," said Iran coach Toroman Rajko. "And of course, Ehadadi was a great asset."
"The defensive rebounds were indeed a matter of concern. And that's where Ehadadi made the difference today," the Serbian born said.
"It obviously hurts," said Qatar coach Edward Andrist. "But then that's what sport is all about."
"We obviously did not achieve what we set out for. And I take full responsibility for the failure," the American said.
Iran 95 (Aidin Nekkah 25, Hamed Eslamieh 17, Javad Davari 16) bt Qatar 87 (Daoud Daoud 21). Quarterwise: 24-20, 44-41, 68-63.