Iran overcame a slow start to crush Chinese-Taipei, 79-60, on Saturday to advance to the finals of the 27th FIBA-Asia Men’s Basketball Championship at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The Iranians were trailing the Taiwanese in the first period but came back strong at the start of the second quarter to clinch their third finals appearance in the biennial event.
They will face the winner of the game between South Korea and host Philippines, which was scheduled later Saturday night.
“We did not start the game well. I don’t know why, but at least later on, we were playing good already,” said Iran coach Mehmed Becirovic. “We started also controlling the game after that. Chinese-Taipei is a strong team, they beat China so I guess that’s it.”
Iran, winner of two FIBA Asia crowns, is unbeaten so far in the tournament.
Chinese-Taipei will meet the loser in the other semifinal game in the battle for third place at 5 p.m. and hope to grab the last of three tickets to the 2014 FIBA World Championship in Madrid, Spain.
Veteran center Hamed Hadadi led the Iranian offense with 17 points and 14 rebounds. Mahdi Kamrany topscored with 19 points, with six rebounds, six assists and two steals. Oshin Sahakian contributed 13 points and Hamed Afagh, 10.
Quincy Davis led Chinese-Taipei with 16 points and Chen Shih-Chieh shot 11, the only Chinese Taipei players to rack up double figures.
“Iran is a strong team. They played very good defense,” said Chinese-Taipei coach Hsu Chin-Che.
Hung Chih-Shan and Lu Cheng-Ju started strong by firing five-point each that gave the Taiwanese a nine-point edge in the first quarter.
But 7’2 Hamed Hadadi beefed up the Iranian defense that silenced the guns of Chinese-Taipei for about seven minutes.
The Iranians also engineered a fiery 17-0 run to grab the lead, 31-25.
Davis broke the scoring drought for the Taiwanese with a pair of charities off a technical foul by Iran coach Becirovic.