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Nightmare defeat for China in final
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Nightmare defeat for China in final

Iran's center Hamed Haddadi blocks a shot from Chinese forward Yi Jianlian during their title game at the Asian Basketball Championships yesterday in Tianjin. Iran, the defending champions, humiliated the hosts 70-52. It was the first time China had not won the title after reaching the final. [China Daily]

Reigning champions Iran gave highly-favored China and their home fans a nightmare to remember last night as they demolished the hosts 70-52 in the final of the Asian Basketball Championships in Tianjin.

Iran's Memphis Grizzlies center Hamed Haddadi came up big against China's New Jersey Nets power forward Yi Jianlian and former Dallas Mavericks center Wang Zhizhi as he scored 19 points and grabbed 17 rebounds to inspire the West Asian nation to another title.

Yi struggled the whole night and finished with only 11 points from a poor 5/16 from the field. Former NBA guard Sun Yue had an even worse evening, failing to score in 23 minutes of play.

China could not find any open chances thanks to Iran's suffocating defense in the first half and managed a mere 25 points.

Iran, who had 42 points at the break, claimed an overwhelming advantage in rebounds with 28 to China's 13 and in fast-break points at eight to zero at halftime.

The hosts' struggles continued early in the second half as Iran blew their lead out to 53-28 after an 11-3 run.

China managed to cut the deficit to 53-36 with an 8-0 spurt near the end of the third quarter but the mountain was too high to climb.

With seconds to go in the final, fans began to throw bottles and trash on to the court to express their fury while many others had already left the stadium.

As the Iranians celebrated on the court, the depressed Chinese players and coaches left quietly and refused to take any questions from the media.

On Saturday, China scraped past the last edition's silver medalists, Lebanon, at the post, 72-68, and Iran beat Jordan 77-75. That meant China and Iran qualified for the 2010 FIBA World Championships in Turkey.

Earlier yesterday, Ayman Idais and Rasheim Wright help Jordan to an 80-66 win over fellow West Asian nation Lebanon in the bronze medal play-off. That win helped the Mario Palma-trained Jordan also book their place at the championships.

(China Daily August 17, 2009)

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