POWERHOUSE Iran opened the knockout stage with intensity and focus, manhandling Jordan, 94-50, on Friday to advance to the semifinals of the 27th Fiba-Asia Champioinship at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Iranians’ celebration, though, was somewhat doused by uncertainty when star center and NBA veteran Hamed Hadadi hurt his right knee during a rebound scramble under four minutes to and Iran ahead, 83-48.
Hadadi was quickly helped out by his teammates, but he had to lift his right leg up as he winced in pain heading to the bench.
Iran coach Mehmed Becirovic though dismissed Hadadi's injury as a mere leg cramp and said he'd be ready for the semifinals on Saturday.
“We dominated the rebounds and we also made good percentage in the free throws,” said Iran national coach Mehmed Becirovic.
“That shows how much concentrated we are today. But this game is already done. Now we’re thinking for tomorrow’s game,” he said.
Egged on by Iranian supporters at the lower box section, the former two-time Asian champions sped off to an imposing 31-9 lead at the end of the first period and never looked back.
Entering the match, Iran coach Mehmed Becirovic said his boys have already set their mind at getting back at the Jordanians, who dashed the Iranian’s three-peat Fiba-Asia basketball title bid during the
2011 edition in Wuhan, China.
The Jordanians broke the Iranians’ three-peat Asian championships dream that year when they pulled off a gigantic victory in the quarterfinals.
Jordan, then mentored by current Gilas Pilipinas consultant Tab Baldwin, went on to advance to the Finals where it lost to China, 69-70 to settle for a silver medal finish.
The Iranians face the winner of the China-Chinese Taipei quarterfinal game Friday.
Hadadi led Iran with 20 points, eight rebounds and three blocks, stepping up his game a notch higher in the knockout stage.
Forward Hamed Afagh added 18 spiked by four triples, while Oshin Sahakian added 14 points and nine boards.
Iran’s top playmaker Mahdi Kamrany had a double-double, finishing with 11 points and 11 assists.
The loss relegated Jordan to the classification round Saturday against the loser of the China-Chinese Taipei game.
Iran 94- Hadadi 20, Afagh 18, Sahakian 14, Kamrani 11, Jamsidijafarabadi 11, Nikkhah Bahrami 8, Sohrabnejad 5, Arghavan 3, Davari 2, Kardoust 2, Davoudichegani 0, Veisi 0.
Jordan 50- Baxter 13, Hadrab 8, Zaghab 6, Alhamarsheh 5, Abu Ruqayah 4, Al Dwairi 4, Al-Sous 3, Abuquora 2, Abdeen 2, Alfaraj 2, Alnajjar 1, Hussein 0.
Quarterscores: 31-11; 53-28; 74-36; 94-50.