Iran, China, South Korea favored to reach semisBy Musong R. Castillo |Philippine Daily Inquirer
There’s no denying that the Final Eight in the 27th Fiba-Asia Championship is the crème de la crème of the tournament, but there are only two matches considered as toss-ups in today’s quarterfinals at Mall of Asia Arena.
Iran vs Jordan
No team has come close to touching mighty Iran in the 15-nation meet, with the Iranians running roughshod over their first six foes and no team looking capable of challenging them the rest of the way.
Iran made South Korea and China look bad in the preliminaries and will certainly make Jordan look the same in the 3 p.m. contest with NBA veteran Hamed Hadadi leading the way.
Not even China’s Yi Jianlian was a match for the 7-foot-2 Hadadi and Jordan won’t have one man that can stop the tall Iranian today.
Iran also has the creative Nikka Bahrami and the silently effective Hamed Afagh, the same guys who helped Iran win in 2007 and 2009.
Jordan upset the Iranians in the quarterfinals in Wuhan, China, two years ago, but that Jordanian team was one of the best in the region back then with the likes of Sam Douglas and Rasheim Wright still in the roster.
Chinese Taipei vs China
Yi played a brief 12 minutes in China’s last game in the preliminaries to get back the game-feel needed for the KO stages. He will be Chinese Taipei’s main problem when they slug it out in the 5:45 p.m. game.
Chinese Taipei has never beaten a Chinese A-Team in its basketball history, according to a veteran Taiwanese reporter, and upsetting China today will give the Taiwanese a bit of Fiba-Asia history.
Quincy Davis III, the first naturalized player in Chinese-Taipei history, will be a key player for the Taiwanese.
The winner of this match will advance to clash with the winner of the Iran-Jordan tiff for a place in the Finals tomorrow.
South Korea vs Qatar
Speed kills. South Korea knows this, and Qatar dreads this.
Facing the oldest squad in the tournament, the Koreans are expected to run and score and give the Qataris all the trouble they can handle in their 10:30 p.m. game
The Koreans ripped the Qataris the last time they faced, also in the quarterfinals, and are fancied to advance and face possibly the Filipinos in the Final Four tomorrow and reprise several classic confrontations in the past.
Jarvis Hayes is the main Qatari gun with the 38-year-old Yasseen Musa the team leader.
Korea, meanwhile, has many guns, a formidable frontline and the youth that could serve it well.