Asian Games: China reclaims gold after beating Iran in men’s basketball
Stefanno Reinard Sulaiman
The Jakarta Post
China reclaimed its Asian Games pre-eminence in men’s basketball after beating Iran 84-72 in a physical final, which recorded 16 fouls for each team, at Istora Senayan in Jakarta on Saturday.
China’s last gold in the event was in the 2010 Games.
Both teams had their best players in the starting five, with China deploying towering NBA player Zhou Qi of the Houston Rockets and Wang Zhelin of the Fujian Sturgeons in the Chinese basketball league, while Iran had seasoned center Hamed E. Haddadi.
Iran took the game seriously as it was the last representative from Central Asia in the sport.
The 2014 Asian Games runner-up Iran opened the match positively 18-25. It slumped in the second quarter as China led 23-20. China, which suffered a big failure in the 2014 Games, was still too powerful in the third quarter, leaving Iran behind 18-11. In the final quarter, China went all out and made it 25-14 to win the gold for the eighth time.
China’s head coach Li Nan acknowledged that his team started poorly, so he demanded the players play harder and faster to stymie their opponents.
“Iran’s team was filled with experienced players, a bunch of shooters, and know how to play in this tournament. […] We started the game poorly and we needed to fight harder to wear them out,” he said.
Qi of China said the gold medal was important for him as a cure for China’s defeat four years ago.
Iran’s head coach Mehran Shahintab revealed that his team was locked down in the second quarter.
The 2018 Games gave Iran its second silver in basketball. Iran has never won any Asian Games gold in the sport. (nkn)
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