Japan – Iran 66-74
8-13, 24-26; 29-37, 36-43; 41-50, 50-59; 56-63, 66-74
GUANGZHOU, China (2010 Asian Games): Sharp shooter Hamed Afagh (pic above) fired in six three pointers in his game-high 27 points as FIBA Asia champions Iran defeated Japan without much to worry in the bronze medal play off in the men’s basketball competition at the 16th Asian Games on Friday.
Iran thus not avenged the 56-57 they had suffered to Japan in the Group F Preliminary Round, but also retained the bronze medal they had won at the 2006 Asian Games at Doha. Iran’s earliest medal in the Asian Games too, incidentally, was a bronze, which they had won in the inaugural edition of the Games at New Delhi in 1951.
Japan, on the other hand, failed to break the 16-year medal drought. Japan last won a medal – a bronze – at the 1994 Hiroshima Asian Games.
Iran surged ahead 13-8 in the first five minutes, and in fact never trailed in the game. Nor was the score in the game ever tied with Iran holding an edge always.
Iran, who under Veselin Matic won their second FIBA Asia Championship title in China last year, strengthened their hold on the game further early in the third quarter with a 9-0 run and never had to worry too much.
Japan did make an attempt to take the fight to their rivals’ camp with a 9-0 spree of their own which cut across the end of third quarter and cut the deficit to 56-59. But that was the closest Tim Wisman’s ever got to Iran in the game.
Seasoned campaigner Mahdi Kamrani returned an impressive all-round show with 10 points, six rebounds and as many assists.
Asghar Kardoust took only five attempts, but converted three of them for his 13 points. Iran’s most promising center also collected seven rebounds.
Hamed Sohrabnejad accounted for 10 points and eight rebounds.
For Japan, who relied on rotation to break their rivals’ rhythm although in vain, Takumi Ishikazi led the scoring with 17 points.
Kosuke Takeuchi who returned to the Japanese National team for the Asian Games collected a game-high nine rebounds to go with his 13 points.
Former Phoenix Suns guard Yuta Tabuse and Ryota Sakurai each accounted for 11 points.