HAMID Hadadi scored 15 points in the fourth quarter as Iran turned back South Korea, 76-65, on Friday to remain unbeaten in the 27th FIBA-Asia Men’s Basketball Championship at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The 7’2 Hadadi, who once played with the Memphis Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns in the National Basketball Association (NBA), scored 8 straight points in the closing minutes of the game to give Iran its biggest lead, 64-50.
With the victory, the two-time champion Iran, leads Group C with a 2-0 card. South Korea and China each has a 1-1 slate and Malaysia is winless in two outings.
China and Iran, the two finalists in 2011, square off on Saturday.
Hadadi finished with a game-high 30 points and Samad Nikkhan Bahrami had 23. Their combined total was more than three-fourth of the Iranian production.
After a stunning setback to South Korea on opening day, China bounced back, drubbing Malaysia, 113-22.
“You know, we have to play quality minutes all the time. This is a long tournament anyway,” said China head coach Panagiotis Giannakis of Greece.
China, which lost to South Korea, 59-63, on Thursday, is within striking distance of the leader South Korea in Group C with a win and a loss. Malaysia suffered its second devastating defeat following a 115-25 rout by Iran on Thursday.
“What matters for us is the playoff. Whoever our opponent would be our most concern,” added Giannakis.
The 91-point margin is a point shy of the FIBA World record of 92 points set by the former Soviet Union national team over Central African Republic, 140-48, in 1974.
Zhelin Wang led China with 21 points, while Wang Zhizhi had 17 points.
Chinese-Taipei demolished Saudi Arabia, 90-67, for its second straight win following its 91-87 win over Jordan on Thursday.
Lin Chi-Chieh led the Taiwanese rampage to hand the Saudis their second loss. The Saudis lost to host Philippines, 66-78, the other night.
With the win, Chinese-Taipei leads Group A with 2-0 card, while the Filipinos had 1-0.
Gilas Pilipinas will play Jordan later on Friday.
Naturalized player Quincy Davis and Tien Lei led a well-balanced 9-0 attack by the Taiwanese.
The Philippines faces Chinese-Taipei on Saturday at 8:30 p.m.
South Korea faces Malaysia at 11 a.m., India and Kazakhstan battle at 1:15 p.m. and Qatar meets Hong Kong at 3:30 p.m.
The seven-bill schedule also feature China against Iran at 5:45 p.m. and Jordan against Saudi Arabia at 10:30 p.m.
In the lone game at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium in Malate, Manila, Bahrain takes on Thailand at 6 p.m.