IRAN leaned on a huge second-half breakaway and cruise to a 75-56 pounding of Bahrain as it moved a win away from completing a sweep of the 27th Fiba-Asia Championship preliminaries on Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Protecting a slim 30-27 lead at the half, the Iranians suddenly exploded in the third period behind the guns of Samad Nikkhah Bahrami, Hamed Afagh, and Asghar Kardoust.
The trio took over when they outscored Bahrain, 33-14, stretching their lead to a commanding 63-41 edge entering the final 10 minutes to the delight of a throng of Iranian supporters in the gallery.
Bahrami, the prolific 29-year-old forward of Iran, topscored with 17 points, while Afagh had 12 of his 15 points coming in the second half for the two-time tournament champion, which hiked its record to 4-0.
Iran can complete a sweep of its preliminary round assignments in Group F with a win over a tough Kazakhstan side on Wednesday.
“We’ll prepare like the way we do against any other opponent,” said Iran coach Mehmed Becirovic, when asked about the team’s game against Kazakhstan, which gave China a scare on Monday night, 73-67.
Bahrain fell to a 1-3 (win-loss) record as it lost a second straight game against another powerhouse team following its 96-51 setback to South Korea also on Monday.
“We’ve played two strong teams in less than 12 hours. I don’t understand whoever makes this schedule,” lamented Bahrain coach Sasa Nikitovic as he criticized the way the schedule of the tournament has been arranged to the disadvantage of his team.
Making things worse for Bahrain was the continued absence of naturalized player CJ Giles.
The former Smart Gilas naturalized player prospect hurt his knee in the first round preliminaries and wore a protective brace when he sat out Bahrain’s game against South Korea.
In the day’s opening game, Jordan finally broke into the win column in the second round by drubbing Hong Kong, 80-54.
Mohammad Hadrab finished with 21 points to pace the Jordanians, who led from start to finish.
The Jordanians now evened their record at 1-1 in round 2 of the preliminaries despite getting only two points from naturalized player Jimmy Baxter.
Hong Kong fell to 0-2.
Jordan (80) – Hadrab 21, Abdeen 13, Hussein 8, Al-Sous 8, Alhamarsheh 7, Alnajjar 7, Abuqoura 6, Al Dwairi 4, Alfaraj 4, Baxter 2.
Hong Kong (54) – Fong 10, Lau Tung Leung 8, Lam 7, Lee 7, Lau Tsz Lai 6, Chan 5, Reid 5, Li 4, Wong 2, Chan YL 0, Szeto 0.
Quarterscores: 18-9; 37-24; 63-40; 80-54.
Iran (75) – Bahrami 17, Afagh 15, Kardoust 12, Kamrany 9, Hadadi 9, Veisi 5, Sahakian 4, Davoudichegani 2, Arghavan 2, Sohrabnejad 0, Davari 0, Jamshidijafarabadi 0.
Bahrain (56) – Altawash 15, Alderazi Ahmed 14, Kawaid Y 8, Malabes 7, Kawaid M 4, Aman 3, Ismaeel 3, Alderazi 2, Akber 0, Azzam 0.
Quarterscores: 23-6; 30-27; 63-41; 75-56.