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TOKUSHIMA (FIBA Asia Championship) - Kazakhstan beat Korea for the first time in history, yet were not sure of making the semifinals. Korea lost, yet booked their berth in the last four. Amidst all this confounding thoughts, Japan went crashing out.
That's exactly Kazakhstan's 75-73 win over Korea in the Group F Quarterfinal round encounter did to the dreams of a handful supporters who had braved the gathering typhoon. A typhoon that would have looked less devastating than their favourite team's ouster!
Kazakhstan, having dealt a severe blow to Japan, will hope that hosts beat Jordan in the final game of the evening, in order to qualify to last four.
Kazakhs played with a 'no quarter given none sought attitude' and the dedication returned rich dividends. In a game, that was touch and go throughout, Korea must have counted on their chances, but failed against the stoic defense applied by the Middle Asian rivals.
Anton Ponomarev, as usual, led Kazakh assault - top scoring his side with 20 points, and also collected 11 rebounds.
"The seniors played their role, but I think this victory is a credit to the youngsters in the team, especially when we lost two players due to fouls," said Kazakh coach Vitaliy Strebkov.
Mainstays Yevgeniy Issakov went out at 46-all (02:56 left in the third quarter) and early (07:58 left) in the fourth quarter, Mikhail Yevstigneyev, who had collected six rebounds - four in defense - exited.
"Full marks to the youngsters," declared Strebkov.
"We just did what the coach told us to do," said Rustam Yargaliyew, who during his stay on court for the entire game, accounted for 14 points and five rebounds.
"What to say? We tried our best. But they were better," said Korea coach Choi Bu Yung.
"Not that we didn't hard or anything, but they covered our fast breaks very well. Also I thought Ha (Seung-Jin) didn't fire as well as I thought."
Kazakhstan 75 (Kim Joo-Sung 30, Kim Dong-Woo 18) bt Korea 73 (Anton Ponomarev 20, Rustam Yargaliyew 14, Maxim Voyeikov 11). Quarterwise: 17-16, 39-37, 50-48.