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Iran bags basketball bronze at Asian Games

DOHA, Dec. 15 (Mehr News Agency) - Iran took the bronze medal at men's basketball tournament of the 15th Asian Games here Friday. The Iranian side defeated Jordan 84-78 in the playoff to forget its surprising loss to the Jordanian team in their opening match.

Iran's Mehdi Kamrani scored 19 points and Jordanian player Islam Abbas hit a game-high 21 points.

Former NBA player Wang Zhizhi powered China to a 59-44 win over hosts Qatar to take back the Asian Games title it lost to South Korea in a nail-biting 2002 final.

Wang, a 2.14m (6ft9) center and the first-ever Asian to sign with the U.S. National Basketball Association, hit a whopping game-high 28 points for China's sixth Asiad gold, AFP reported.

Omar Abdelkader Salem scored a team-high 16 points for Qatar, who reached their first-ever Asiad final under American coach Joey Stiebing who took them to the Asian championship bronze in 2003 and last year.

"I'm very happy with the way we finished the tournament. We played at a very good level of basketball in the final," said China coach Jonas Kazlauskas.

"We controlled the situation on the court mostly full time. We played good defense and for sure Wang Zhizhi and Yi Jianlian made this win possible."

Yi, 2.16m (7ft4), a top prospect for the NBA draft next season, has led China's scoring with an average 16.5 points per game as they lost none of the eight matches they played.

Wang, who returned home this year after playing for the Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Clippers and the Miami Heat over four years, pumped in 12 points in the first quarter against a smaller but spirited Qatar.

Ali Turki Ali's three-pointer seconds before the buzzer slashed China's lead to 20-15.

Another Ali shot early in the second period left China's hanging by a one-point margin at 20-19 to the joy of a loud drum-beating Qatari cheer squad.

China, five centimeters (two inches) taller on average, could hardly outdo Qatar in rebounding but piled up points with better shooting precision to lead 34-25 at half-time.

Wang helped spread the gap to 13 points at the start of the third.

But power guard Daoud Mousa Daoud's two long shots from the left perimeter cut the deficit to 40-37 with three minutes to go.

Wang's lay-up and jump shot from behind the line pushed China to a 47-39 lead going into the final stanza.

It was a 10-point game at 53-43 halfway through the fourth quarter and China roared on with a 6-1 run. Ali Saad Abdulrahman's fade-away jumper in the paint bounced off the rim to end the final.

"I'm really happy for my guys. They did exactly did what I told them," said Stiebing, a former University of New Oreleans coach.

"Wang made some tough shots. I thought we defended him but he took advantage of his height. That's the reason why he played in the NBA and that showed tonight."

Kazlauskas, a Lithuanian, added: "We know our problems. I think Chinese basketball will now start preparing for the Olympics in Beijing. Now is the right way for Beijing."

China have yet to win any Olympic or world championship medal.

China lost 102-100 to South Korea in the 2002 final after a 16-year reign. They revenged that defeat by whipping the Koreans in the quarterfinals here and remained unbeaten through the tournament.

Qatar, who finished ninth in 2002, earlier lost to three-time champions South Korea 87-81 in a group match.

... Payvand News - 12/16/06 ... --

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