Iran crushes Malaysia in FIBA Asia Manila opener
by rick olivares
Iran crushed disheartened Malaysia in the 2013 FIBA Asia championship opener, 115-25 at the Mall of Asia Arena yesterday. Malaysia, still reeling from the loss of young center Jack Ng Kiat Kee who passed away due to heart failure during a match in an invitational tournament in China last Sunday
Seven-foot-two center Hamed Hadadi blocked Hong Hoong Gan’s first foray inside the paint and Iran, which lost in the quarterfinals of the biennial competition, was on their way racking up a huge 42-3 lead after the first period.
“We are a young team with only two players with experience,” said Malaysia head coach Teh Choon Yean. “It’s a learning experience for us.”
The only Malaysian players with extensive experience are Ooi Ban Sin and Kuek Tian Yuan who both play for the Kuala Lumpur Dragon in the Asean Basketball League.
Iran in the meantime was able to rest its veterans Hadadi, Samad Nikkhah Bahrami, Hamed Afagh, and Mahdi Kamrany in anticipation of Friday’s match against Korea while giving their bench extensive minutes.
Despite playing only 13 minutes, Hadadi, a NBA veteran having played for the Memphis Grizzlies and the Phoenix Suns, top scored for Iran with 21 points. Forward Ashgar Kardoust backed him up with 15 points while Mohammed Jamshidijafarabadi and Mahdi Kamrany added 12 each. Bahrami scored 11 while Oshin Sahakian chipped in 10.
So absolute was Iran domination that they pulled down 47 rebounds to the 22 of Malaysia. Iran also scored 45 points of turnovers and 70 whopping points in the paint. They attempted 61 times from the field while limiting Malaysia to a mere 19 field goal attempts.
Gan was Malaysia’s only player to score in double figures with 10.
Iran’s Slovakian head coach Mehmed Becirovic downplayed his team’s win saying that Malaysia was “grieving” with their loss. “But it’s better to play a weaker team than a strong team on your first day. There are always first game jitters.”