In the last day of the group stage play for the 3rd FIBA Asia Stankovic Cup taking place in Ghazeer, Lebanon, the host Lebanese national team is the only unbeaten team in this tourney after defeating previously unbeaten Qatar and topped Group B, facing Kazakhstan in the quarterfinals. Japan topped Group A and avoided all possible confusions of qualifying by beating Iraq, hence knocking them out. Syria was the lone team from Group B not to qualify as well; unlike Iraq, it lost all its games, recently to the World Cup-bound Jordan, who hasn’t won a game before in the tourney. Meanwhile, the battle for the second position in Group A ended with Iran walking all over the Chinese Taipei. How did all this happen? Who faces whom in the quarterfinals on Friday?
In the last game of round robin play, the clash of the unbeaten teams took place between the hosts Lebanon and Qatar. The storyline of the game was the same for the first twenty minutes, as Lebanon would jump to a six or seven point lead, then Qatar would catch back up. Eventually, by the end of the third quarter, both teams were tied, and with Lebanese Jackson Vroman’s free throw at the end, the game was tied at 65 and entered overtime. Yet once again, Fadi El Khatib, 18 points, had 6 of Lebanon’s 12 points in OT, to give the Lebanese team their fourth straight win and top Group B to face Kazakhstan, who had a bye day today. Targuy Ngombo had a game high with 26 points, but was not enough to prevent the Qataris from receiving their first loss in the tournament and will have to face the Chinese Taipei in the quarterfinals.
In other Group B action, unlike the former clash mentioned, this was a battle of the teams that have not won a game yet between Syria and Jordan, which ended in favor of the World Cup-bound team 78-66. Both teams were on a three game losing streak, including Syria having to forfeit the Lebanon game due to the chants by the Lebanese crowd. The game was in Jordanian control from start to finish, with the lead reaching as much as 21 points due to the help of Ayman Idais (29 points, 12 rebounds) and Wisam Al Sous (21 points). With this win, Jordan finished fourth in its group, enough to help it qualify to the quarterfinals to face Group A winners Japan. Meanwhile, Michel Madanly’s 19 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists were not enough for the Syrian team to win a game and crack the quarterfinals, hence ending a disappointing journey in this edition of the Stankovic Cup.
In Group A, things were slight more complicated, as no team won all its games nor lost all its games and all had a chance to make or break. Japan played Iraq in a game where if Japan won, it would top Group A, otherwise it would give Iraq a chance to qualify. Yet let’s not confuse ourselves about this, because Japan did what the other three teams in the group wanted: win the game. Like Jordan did against Syria, Japan dominated the game from the beginning and never really Iraq a chance to get into the flow of the game after jumping to a 15-4 lead, eventually winning the game 87-72. Kosuke Takeuchi had a game high 26 points, 10 from the free throw line. and 17 rebounds for the winners, while Mustafa Hamazeh had 15 points for the Iraqi team, who ended their first tournament in 23 years with a legendary OT win over Iran the day before.
The other crucial matchup that took place was between Iran and Chinese Taipei, where both teams were playing to win as they weren’t guaranteed a spot in the quarterfinals. The game turned out to be anything but crucial, as Iran ended a close first half on a high note and led the way in the second half by as much as 26 points, only to win 86-67 to take second place in Group A and face the Philippines in the quarterfinals, while the Chinese Taipei will have to deal with Qatar. Asghar Kardoust had a game high 24 points along with 11 rebounds, while teammates Ali Baheran (2o points, 5 assists) and Moosa Nabipoor (13 points, 18 rebounds) were also effective in this win. Meanwhile, Chen Shun-hsiang’s 13 points weren’t enough to avoid the Qatari team in the next round.
Quarterfinals Schedule (Friday August 13th):
12:00 PM: Iraq – Syria (Classification 9th-10th place)
2:00 PM: Iran – Philippines
4:00 PM: Qatar – Chinese Taipei
6:00 PM: Lebanon – Kazakhstan
8:00 PM: Japan – Jordan