SANA’A, Yemen (21st FIBA Asia U18 Championship): China posted a 10-0 run midway through the second quarter and grimly hung on to it to hold off Iran’s challenge in the second semifinal on Thursday. China won 63-52.
China thus entered after the gap of an edition and will gun to regain the gold they won at Urumqi in the 2006 edition, when they play against Korea on the morrow.
Both China and Korea however have booked their ticket to the 2011 FIBA U17 World Championship to be held in Latvia.
The clash between the defending champions and the red hot favorites – considered by many as a game too early for the final – was close in terms scoring as well speed and style.
Iran’s defense did rather well to Guo Ailun under a tight leash, but coach Mohsen Sadegh Zadeh’s plans looked a little too over-focused on Guo.
Zhu Xuhang rose to the occasion to make amends for Guo and opened up the game midway through the second quarter.
Zhu went on to top score the game with 22 points, firing in six three-pointers.
Trailing 17-20, China set off on 10-0 run with Zhu scoring six of them, a spree that held them in good stead till the end.
Iran fought back gallantly and never let the lid off pressure, but that surge proved a little too wide a bridge to cross.
That Saeid Mohammadi’s 9 points was the highest for Iran spoke for their struggle with offense.
“It was very tough game. We had to change plans midway,” said China coach Fan Bin.
“It was a big game at this stage of the tournament. So obviously we were as nervous as them,” he said about the low scoring first quarter when China led 11-10.
“But as the game progressed we picked up speed, and our guards were able to stop their speed,” he added.
China led 27-22 at the end of the first half and outscored Iran 20-15 in the third.
“I think we lost focus. And it was difficult to catch up with them once they took the lead,” Iran coach Mohsen Sadegh Zadeh said.
For Game Statistics and Detailed scores click here