Basketball: Iran, Philippines in Asia final

Iran, led by NBA centre Hamed Haddadi, ended the giant-killing run of Chinese Taipei on Saturday to reach the final of the FIBA Asia basketball championship. The Iranians will gun for their third Asian title on Sunday when they play hosts the Philippines, who ousted South Korea in a pulsating semi-final. Haddadi, the first Iran-born player in the US National Basketball Association, scored 17 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in 25 minutes as Iran defeated the Taiwanese, 79-60. Point guard Mahdy Kamrani led all scorers with 19 points plus six assists for the Iranians, champions in 2007 and 2009 in the biennial event. Chinese Taipei had sensationally bundled out defending champions China in the quarter-finals on Friday, but ran out of gas after a close first quarter. They were again paced Saturday by their centre Quincy Davis with 16 points and five rebounds, but his fellow starters offered little support. Meanwhile, backed by 20,000 raucous local fans, the Filipinos overcame the much-taller South Koreans to run out 86-79 winners in a closely-fought match. The hosts' backcourt starred, with reserve point guard Jim Alapag pitching in 14 points including four three-pointers to complement shooting guard Jayson William's 17. Forward Jean Marc Pingris scored 16 points and snared 10 rebounds as the Philippines overcame the early loss through injury of starting centre Marcus Douthit. The Filipinos had been champions five times, second only to China's 15, but their last title came in 1985. Substitute guard Kim Min-Goo led the Koreans with 27 points. The Asian championship is also the qualifying tournament for the region's three representatives to the FIBA World Cup in Spain next year. As Asian championship finalists, Iran and the Philippines get the first two slots, with losing semi-finalists Chinese Taipei and South Korea contesting the third slot in the third-place play-off, also on Sunday.