China, Iran teams to beat in Asia Fiba tourney

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THERE’S little doubt that China and Iran will meet in the finals of the 27th Fiba Asia Championship set Aug. 1 to 11 at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.

With their formidable lineups intact, the Chinese and the Iranians are expected to nail two of the three tickets to the 2014 Fiba World Championship in Spain at stake in the continental meet.

They alternately won the last two Asian championships with the Iranians nailing a second straight crown after humbling the Chinese, 70-52, in Tianjin in 2009 and China regaining the title two years later in Wuhan over Jordan.

The Iranians bounced back from their Wuhan misadventure by ruling the Fiba Asia Cup in Tokyo last year and the recent Jones Cup in Taipei.

China will be parading a new coach in Greek mentor Panagiotis Giannakis following the dismissal of American coach Bob Donewald for failing to win a single game in the London Olympics.

Giannakis steered China, led by ace power forward and NBA veteran Yi Jianlian, to a silver-medal finish in the Stankovic Continental Cup behind eventual champion Argentina recently.

Iran will have some of its veterans back and will flaunt forward Arsalan Kazemi, a former Oregon U hotshot who was picked 54th overall in the NBA draft.  June Navarro

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