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Basketball: China vs. Qatar in Asiad Final
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China and Qatar will meet in the men's basketball final after they respectively defeated Jordan and Iran in the semifinals of the Doha Asian Games on Wednesday.

China enjoyed a comfortable win over Jordan on 86-58, while Qatar fought for a hard-earned 67-64 semifinal victory.

Wang Zhizhi scored a team-high 20 points to help China breeze past Jordan after a sluggish start. The former NBA player also contributed two rebounds and three blocks. NBA prospect Yi Jianlian enjoyed a double-double, totaling 17 points and 10 rebounds while Mo Ke and Zhu Fangyu contributed 13 and 12 points respectively.

China's man-to-man marking proved to be a failure as they were trailing 26-21 in the first quarter.

"We were not very good at the start but finished well. I am happy we finally entered the final," said Jonas Kazlauskas, coach of the Chinese team, "because we had some problems on defense and Jordan had some good three pointers. It's very difficult to cover very well, so we put on zone defense."

After switching to zone defense, China gradually found their rhythm. With three minutes left in the third quarter, China made a 12-point run to lead the game 57-38. Mo Ke's three pointers and four points from Zhu Fangyu extended their margin over Jordan to 29 points.

China were 22 for 44 on three-pointers, a 50% ratio that was instrumental to victory.

"Their three-point shooting is not normal," said Mario Palma, head coach of Jordan, who merely converted five three-pointers out of 21 attempts.

"But I'm only three months in Jordan and in that time, we never lost any game. However, there are more games coming," added Palma, "China is a very good team. They can play any team in the world."

Captain Al Khas Zaid paced Jordan with a game-high 27 points and five rebounds. Abbas Islam managed 12 points, 10 rebounds and three assists but their efforts were in vain.

In the other semi, Qatar survived a hard-fought game and were assured of their first Asian Games basketball medal after a 67-64 win over Iran.

After both sides missed their combined first seven field goals, Iran opened the score and took an early 16-4 lead. However, Qatar reversed the trend by notching the opening five points in the second quarter, ending the first half at 25-24 favoring Iran.

Thanks to the home support, Qatar nailed 29 points in the third quarter, taking a 10-point lead into the fourth quarter.

Mahdi Kamrany's lay-up in the final 10 seconds helped Iran cut the deficit to three points but they were unable to recover with the final score standing 67-64 in favor of the hosts.

Qatar won the historic semi with the ninth-place in Busan, South Korea in 2002, their highest ranking at an Asian Games basketball tournament.

On China's disadvantages, Joseph Stiebing, coach of the Qatari team, said that "I think we are more athletic and we will do more in controlling the defence and rebounding. China is a premier team even Yao Ming is not here. I like No. 7 (Wang Shipeng), he is a good shooter. But we are still confident of winning the gold medal."

(Xinhua News Agency December 14, 2006)

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