Game Photos. Game Details and Stats
BEIRUT, Lebanon (23rd FIBA Asia Champions Cup): Twice former champions and reigning WABA League champions Mahram of Iran entered the gold medal game of the FIBA Asia Champions Cup for the fourth time in a row, stepping up the gas when it mattered the most and leaving an perky Iraqi outfit in Duhok far behind in their 93-76 semifinal win on Saturday.
Mahram’s win set up a repeat clash of the gold medal game at 22nd FIBA Asia Champions Cup at Manila (Philippines) last year, when they had lost to now hosts Al Riyadi Beirut.
Duhok, had lost 52-91 in the Preliminary Round to Mahram here, but the team that played today looked far from defeated.
The Iraqi team, with a bunch of fans waving the Kurdistan – the region from where Duhok hail – flag backing them Duhok matched Mahram move for move for a better part of the first half.
Samad Bahrami was the leading scorer for Mahram in the early part of the game, but ironically his absence – after he committed four personal fouls including a technical foul midway through the second quarter – that spurred Mahram’s offense.
Mahdi Kamrani reeled in a characteristic sizzler from outside the arc and followed it up with two free-throws; Farid Aslani came up with his own trey and Hamed Afagh (pic above) converted both his attempts from the foul-line – and suddenly Mahram’s quality and depth became obvious.
Bahrami was brought back well into the third quarter dished out 4 assists and finished with 19 points before being ejected for personal fouls, but his return only consolidated Mahram’s position in the game.
Serb Ratko Varda provided the size to quell many a Duhok entry and Iranian duo Afagh and Kamrani proved well equipped to keep their team in the vantage position.
Duhok had four players scoring in the double-digits – with American Kendell Dartez’ 17 being the highest – a factor that should keep them in good stead when they line up against Belent Asgabat of Turkmenistan for the bronze medal on the morrow.
Mahram have a day’s break before taking on Riyadi in the gold medal game, which has been deferred to Monday in view of the National Mourning in Lebanon.