PRELIMINARY ROUND GAME RESULTS (August 2):
(Group C) China def. Malaysia 113-22
(Group A) Chinese Taipei def. Saudi Arabia 90-67
(Group B) Japan def. Hong Kong 76-59
(Group C) Iran def. Korea 76-65
(Group D) Kazakhstan def. Bahrain 79-76 (F/OT)
(Group A) PHILIPPINES def. Jordan 77-71
(Group D) India def. Thailand 89-65
PRELIMINARY ROUND GAMES TODAY (August 3):
11:00AM (Group C) Malaysia vs. Korea (Mall of Asia Arena)
1:15PM (Group D) India vs. Kazakhstan (Mall of Asia Arena)
3:30PM (Group B) Hong Kong vs. Qatar (Mall of Asia Arena)
5:45PM (Group C) Iran vs. China (Mall of Asia Arena)
6:00PM (Group D) Bahrain vs. Thailand (Ninoy Aquino Stadium)
8:30PM (Group A) PHILIPPINES vs. Chinese-Taipei (Mall of Asia Arena)
10:30PM (Group A) Saudi Arabia vs. Jordan (Mall of Asia Arena)
MALL OF ASIA ARENA, Pasay City—When the fans here started "the wave" it was the beginning of the end.
Gilas Pilipinas notched its second straight win, this time at the expense Jordan, 77-71 plunging the 2011 silver medallists to a tie for the bottom of the standings in Group A of the ongoing preliminary round of the 27th FIBA-Asia Championship.
The host nation found itself trailing at the break 33-38 after a seemingly listless performance in the first half as Jordanian slotman Mohammed Hadrab went on a scoring rampage that the Filipinos could not seem to solve. Hadrab, filling in for the role vacated by veteran mainstay Zaid Abbas, drilled in seventeen points for Jordan; most which came in first two periods where the Philippines struggled to keep in step.
But a spark occurred for Chot Reyes’ charges in the third canto when all guns began finding their ranges as Gilas entered the final quarter after completing a 24-9 barrage and never looked back. Team captain Jimmy Alapag and forward Marc Pingris began inciting the crowd to make more noise and the result was arguably the loudest collective cheers ever to be reverberated in this building.
It was also during a called timeout by Jordan in that quarter that the thousands in attendance began a human "wave" which circled the venue for several loops and the effect was as if a force field of invulnerability was being created by the fans to sheild the lead built by the team. It apparently worked as the advantage was never relinquished from there on in.
Forward Ranidel de Ocampo along with guards Jeff Chan and Jayson Castro (or Jayson William—as he is using the surname of his father on his jersey) led the onslaught as the nationals raced to a 2-0 slate in their group and now set up the much anticipated finale today as Gilas locks horns with fellow undefeated squad Chinese-Taipei in a battle that will bring out more than just the usual crowd support for the Filipino cagers.
The Philippines and Taiwan have been figuring in several political issues—the repercussions of which compelled Taiwan to “uninvite” the defending titlist Philippines in the recently concluded William Jones Cup—and while officials from both teams claim that the only feud to be settled will be one about the sport, the thousands of fans that will flock to this venue and the millions that will be glued to their televisions will see it as more than a mere preliminary round tiff.
“Gilas will teach them (Chinese-Taipei) a lesson,” one fan declared.
“We didn’t ‘uninvite’ them, so we’ll just destroy them here,” another said.
“Basketball is basketball,” Chinese-Taipei coach Hsu Chin-Che stated in an interview with Manila Bulletin. “Politics should not be involbed.”
“(Today) it will all be about winning a basketball game against another team,” a Gilas team member said. “I’m sure that’s the way they will also view it.”
In the victory against Jordan, one of the most unsung heroes for Team Philippines should be Gabe Norwood as his lock defense against naturalized American swingman Jimmy Baxter limited the former University of South Florida product to just fourteen markers, after he exploded for thirty in the Jordanians’ opening day loss to Chinese Taipei. Norwood shadowed Baxter and kept him from getting clean looks at the hoop, forcing him into an anemic 6/13 clip from the field.
Castro’s playmaking brilliance and Chan’s deadly sniping also kept Game #1 stars LA Tenorio and Larry Fonacier on the bench, while pivot Marcus Douthit asserted his might on the defensive end in the second half, recording three blocks and reducing the Jordanians’ inside aggression in the process.
Chan—who went 5/7 from deep—top scored for the Philippines with seventeen points off the bench, while Castro chipped-in sixteen and Douthint and de Ocampo provided eleven apiece.
Going into today’s game, both the Philippines and Chinese-Taipei are not anymore required to win to enter the next round as three of the four squads in each group will make it through. So by virtue of both teams already picking up two victories, their duel technically a “no bearing” affair and will be interesting how it will play out in that regard.
Just as the Philippines-Jordan clash was beginning another saga was ending over at the tournament’s second venue, the Ninoy Aquino Stadium (NAS) in Manila. Kazakhstan’s naturalized player Jerry Jamar Johnson nailed a three-pointer with fifteen seconds left in regulation to send Bahrain into its second overtime match of the tournament as the Kazakhs held on to win 79-76.
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Known back in the United States as “Triple J”, Johnson, the former Rider University scoring machine, went on to give the Kazakhs the lead in the extra session and the team never looked back. He scored eighteen points and dished out eight assists, mostly to game-high scorer Rustam Yargaliev, who finished with nineteen markers.
Kazakhstan is now the only unscathed squad in Group D as Bahrain –which also needed an extra period on opening day to defeat India, 82-80—absorbed its first loss. Bahrain finishes the group stages against Thailand still at the NAS—the only team never to have a group stage match in the main venue, the Mall of Asia Arena. The Bahrainis, however, are already assured of a berth in the second round—unless the winless Thais pull off a forty point miracle margin of victory against the burly gulf coast qualifier, which would be highly unlikely.
Also, former champions Iran overcame a sluggish first half to put away a gritty Korean squad, 76-65 behind a massive double-double performance from NBA veteran Hamed Hadadi, who registered thirty points and pulled down thirteen rebounds as the Iranians remained the only undefeated squad in Group C, dubbed as the “Group of Death”.
Forward Samad Nikkhah-Bahrami played almost 39 minutes and contributed 23 markers and point guard Mahdi Kamrany issued nine assists as Iran held the usually efficient Koreans to just 35% shooting from the field. Iran takes on defending titlists China today to close out their group stage assignments, already assured of a slot in the next round.
Speaking of China, they topped Iran’s 90-point winning margin by coasting to a 91-point thrashing of lowly Malaysia in the first game of the day, 113-22, to finally break into the win column after falling to Korea in an opening day heartbreak, 59-63. The Chinese even opted not to field in NBA stalwart Yi Jianlian in the rout as 36-year-old Wang Zhizhi made the most of his time on the floor, attaining seventeen points in the lopsided victory. Combo-guard Ooi Ban Sin led Malaysia in scoring with nine points.
Malaysia takes on Korea in today’s first game, listed as an 80-1 underdog. They have scored a combined 47 points in the two matches they have played so far.
Hong Kong finally made its debut in the tournament, but were sent reeling by a hungry and angry Japanese squad, 76-59. Japan, which lost its opening day encounter against idle Qatar by only a hairline, 74-75, this time banked on spitfire guard Naoto Tsuji’s seventeen points to trounce the pesky Hong Kong side and—like China—also grab its first win of the fifteen-nation meet. Hong Kong got a solid outing from power forward Wong Chun Wai as he had a game-high 23 markers, including an impressive 4/8 from beyond the arc. Hong Kong battles undefeated Qatar today.
In other games, Chinese-Taipei ripped Saudi Arabia, 90-67 behind the blistering shooting of forward Lu Cheng-Ju while India finally got its first win of the tournament in dominating fashion, 89-65 against undersized Thailand in the nightcap.
The group stages end today and will be followed by a rest day on Sunday, August 4.
This early, let’s play swami and create Group E and Group F (which I will explain in another article during the rest day):
FORECASTED GROUP E: Philippines, Chinese-Taipei, Jordan (should they win against Saudi Arabia—which should be a certainty), Hong Kong, Qatar, Japan (all teams from Group B automatically advance due to the suspension of Lebanon leaving only three teams in this group)
FORECASTED GROUP F: China, Iran, Korea, Kazakhstan, India, Bahrain (the unfortunate SEABA representatives—Malaysia and Thailand—will have to await the consolation matches to salvage some sort of FIBA-Asia pride)
We’ll talk about how the second round will work this Sunday. See you at the Mall of Asia Arena today. I will be working the Hong Kong-Qatar and the must-see China-Iran matches. Gotta rest the pipes for now.
Some notable people who were there (in no particular order): Sen. Robert “The Big J” Jaworski, Pasig Vice Mayor Rosalio “Yoyong” Martirez, Antipolo 1st district congressman Robbie Puno, Derek and Dino Pumaren, Kenneth Duremdes, and a few more I can’t remember now. I’ll be there early today, though.
PR-C: China def. Malaysia, 113-92
CHN 113—Wang Zhelin 21, Wang Zhizhi 17, Guo 16, Zhu 16, Zhou 9, Li 8, Zhang 8, Liu 7, Sun 6, Wang Shipeng 5, Chen 0.
MAS 22—Ooi 9, Foong 4, Gan 3, Tong 2, Kuek 2, Wong C. 2, Choo 0, Soo 0, Mak 0, Ng 0, Wong W. 0.
PR-A: Chinese-Taipei def. Saudi Arabia, 90-67
TPE 90—Lu 25, Creighton 16, Davis 14, Tsai 8, Lin 7, Tien 6, Yang 6, Chou 4, Hung 3, Chen 1, Lee 0, Tseng 0.
KSA 67—A. Almuwallad 15, M. Almuwallad 14, Kabe 10, Mo. Almarwani 6, Alsager 6, Abo Jalas 6, Ma. Almarwani 4, Abujabal 4, Alhawsawi 1, Bilal 1, Almukhtar 0.
PR-B: Japan def. Hong Kong, 76-59
JPN 76—Tsuji 17, Takeuchi 12, Kanamaru 10, Sakuragi 10, Hiejima 6, Tanaka 6, Ota 4, Watanabe 4, Ichioka 3, Sakurai 2, Kurihara 2, Matsui 0.
HKG 59—Wong 23, Reid 10, Li 9, Chan Y. 8, Chan S. 5, Lau 2, Szeto 2, Fong 0, Lam 0, Lau 0.
PR-C: Iran def. Korea, 76-65
IRI 76—Hadadi 30, Nikkhah-Bharami 23, Kamrany 5, Sahakian 4, Kardoust 4, Arghavan 3, Jamshidijafarabadi 3, Afagh 2, Davoudichegani 2, Veisi 0, Davari 0.
KOR 65—Cho 15, Kim Jong 11, Kim Ming 11, Lee Jong 8, Kim Sun 6, Kim Joo 5, Lee Seung 4, Yang 2, Choi 2, Yoon 1, Kim Tae 0, Moon 0.
PR-D: Kazakhstan def. Bahrain, 79-76 (F/OT)
KAZ 79—Yargaliev 19, Johnson 18, Yevstigneyev 16, Dvirnvy 12, Klimov 5, Ponomarev 4, Murzagaliyev 3, Lapchenko 2, Zhigulin 0, Sultanov 0, Bondarovich 0.
BRN 76—Ismaeel 14, Malabes 14, Giles 12, M. Kawaid 12, Alderazi 10, Azzam 7, Akber 6, Y. Kawaid 1, Ebrahim 0, Altawash 0.
PR-A: PHILIPPINES def. Jordan, 77-71
PHI 77—Chan 17, William 16, de Ocampo 11, Douthit 11, Norwood 8, Aguilar 6, Alapag 3, Tenorio 3, David 2, Pingris 0, Fonacier 0, Fajardo 0.
JOR 71—Hadrab 19, Baxter 14, Al-Sous 13, Hussein 9, Abdeen 6, Alhamaresheh 3, Abu Ruqayah 3, Zaghab 2, Abuqoura 2, Alfaraj 0, Al-Najjar 0.
PR-D: India def. Thailand, 89-65
IND 89—Grewal 24, Bhriguvanshi 20, J. Singh 13, Amr. Singh 9, Amj. Singh 8, Bharama 6, Kaushik 3, Y. Singh 2, Pethani 2, P. Singh 1, Arj. Singh 1, Kadam 0.
THA 65—Dasom 10, Tongsri 9, Lertlaokul 8, Darongpan Apiromvilaichai 7, Ghogar 7, Samerjai 6, Lertmalaiporn 6, Klahan 4, Kongkum 4, Suttisin 2, Darunpong Apiromvilaichai 2, Klaewonarong 0.
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