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    The 2013 FIBA Asia Men’s Basketball Championship are over but let us revisit some of the outstanding performances during the biennial continental competitions held in Manila from August 1-11.

    Unquestionably, man-mountain Hamed Haddadi of the unbeaten gold medalist Islamic Republic of Iran (9-0) was the best player in the FIBA Asia tournament that rewarded three tickets to the FIBA World Cup in Madrid , Spain next year.

    A five-year National Basketball Association vet (2008-13) with Memphis Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns, the lumbering 7-foot-2 Haddadi ranked first in the 15-nation tourney in point production with an 18.8-point average in nine appearances, having made .623 of his attempts from the field.

    Haddadi was one of only two men to collect at least 30 points in a single game, the other being Wang Zhizhi of deposed titlist People’s Republic of China . The 28-year-old Haddadi chalked up 30 markers in the Iranians’ 76-65 conquest of South Korea on the second day of action. Wang, a fading 7-foot, 36-year-old frontliner from Beijing who made NBA history in April 2001 when he suited up for the Dallas Mavericks to become the first player from Mainland China, torched Jordan for 33 points in a 79-76 victory during the semifinals of the classification phase for fifth to eight places.

    Haddadi also shared first place in the rebounding category for players with at least four games played. He normed 10 boards an outing, including 16 (along with 29 points) in the 85-71 finals win over the Philippines that sealed Iran’s third FIBA Asia crown in the past four stagings. Mohammed Almarwani of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia also owned a 10-rebound average in four games.

    Former Team Pilipinas recruit Chester (CJ) Giles of Bahrain actually registered a higher clip at 14.7 rpg (along with 14.3 ppg) but he appeared in just three games due to an injury. No other player was in double digits in boardwork.

    A total of 37 players with at least four games averaged at least 10 points during the FIBA Asia tournament.

    Following Haddadi, the others in the Top 10 scoring were China’s Yi Jianlian (5 games, 17.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.6 apg), Qatar’s Jarvis Hayes (6 g, 16.7 ppg), KSA’s Ayman Almuwallad (4 g , 15.3 ppg), Chinese-Taipei’s Quincy Davis (9 g, 14.7 ppg), Jordan’s Jimmy Baxter (9 g, 14. 1 ppg), China’s Wang Zhizhi (9 g, 13.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.4 apg), India’s Vishesh Bhriguvanshi (8 g, 13.1 ppg), Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Yevstigneyev (7 g, 12.9 ppg) and Iran’s Samad Nikkah Bahrami (9 g, 12.8 ppg, 4.2 apg, 3.2 rpg).

    Other double-figure scorers included South Korea’s Kim Mingoo (9 g, 12.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.7 apg), Jordan’s Mohammad Hadrab (8 g, 12.5 ppg), Kazakhstan’s Jerry Jamar Johnson (8 g, 12.3 ppg), Bahrain’s Mohamed Alderazi (8 g, 12.3 ppg), South Korea’s Cho Sungmin (9 g, 12.3 ppg), Japan’s Kosuke Kanamaru (7 g, 12.1ppg), the Philippines’ Marcus Eugene Douthit (8 g, 11.9 ppg), the Philippines’ Jayson Castro William (9 g, 11.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.0 apg), Hong Kong’s Duncan Overbeck Reid (7 g, 11.7 ppg) , Bahrain’s Ahmed Ismaeel (5 g, 11.6 ppg), Jordan’s Wesam Al Sous (8 g, 11.6 ppg), Bahrain’s Husain Altawash (8 g, 11.1 ppg), Iran’s Hamed Afagh (9 g, 11.0 ppg), Japan’s Kosuke Takeuchi (7 g, 11.0 ppg), and India’s Narender Kumar Grewal (8 g, 11.0 ppg);

    Chinese-Taipei’s Cheng Ju Lu (9 g, 10.8 ppg), Qatar’s Daoud Mosa Daoud (8 g, 10.8 ppg), KSA’s Marzouq Almuwallad (4 g, 10.8 ppg), KSA’s Mohammed Almarwani (4 g, 10.8 ppg), Chinese-Taipei’s Chih Chieh Lin (9 g, 10.7 ppg, 3.8 rpg, tournament third-best 4.9 apg), Qatar’s Yasseen Musa (7 g, 10.7 ppg), Iran’s Mahdi Kamrany (9 g, 10.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg, tournament-high 6.6 assists, tournament-best 1.56 steals), Kazakhstan’s Rustam Yargaliyev (9 g, 10.3 ppg), China’s Wang Zhelin (9 g, 10.2 ppg, 6.0 rpg), Qatar’s Erfan Ali Saeed (6 g, 10.2 ppg), Japan’s Naoto Tsuji (6 g, 10.2 ppg), and Thailand’s Anasawee Klaewnarong (5 g, 10.0 ppg).

    Douthit (11.9 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 1.6 apg, a tournament-best 2 blocked shots a game), who because of an injury was limited to two points, three rebounds and two blocked shots in 13 minutes during the Filipinos’ crucial 86-79 semifinal triumph over South Korea, was one of the eight naturalized players in the tournament.

    The others were Chinese-Taipei’s Quincy Davis ((14.7 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 1.22 bpg, 0.9 apg and a tournament-best .737 field-goal shooting), Kazakhstan’s Jerry Johnson (12.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg, tournament second-best 5.0 apg), Qatar’s Jarvis Hayes (16.7 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.3 apg), South Korea’s Lee Seung Jun/Eric Sandrin (9 g, 7.9 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 0.8 apg), Japan’s J.R. Sakuragi/J.R. Henderson (7 g, 9.6 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 2.3 apg), Bahrain’s Chester (C.J.) Miles (14.3 ppg, 14.7 rpg, 0.3 apg) and Jordan’s Jimmy Baxter (14.1 ppg, 3.6 ...
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    Philippine Basketball
  2. Super Roi

    After notching yet another close victory over a tough opponent, Roi Sumang has all but cemented his claim as the most clutch player of UAAP Season 76

    UE's Red Warriors had pulled off another escape act, coming back from as much as 11 points down, pulling the rug out from under the UST Growling Tigers 68-67 in front of a sparse but animated gallery at the Big Dome yesterday. With UST taking a nine-point lead at the end of the third period, it looked like the boys from CM Recto were done for.

    Ralf Olivares, the one-done wonder who had 15 points in the first half, would end the game with that output.

    Charles Mamie, the mighty Sierra Leone center, was being thoroughly outplayed by his UST counterpart Karim Abdul.

    Coming to the rescue, as he had done on at least one other occasion this season, was 5'8" chain-lighting pointguard Roi Sumang.

    Sumang had earlier found off-guard Lord Casajeros for the outlet pass and easy layup in transition as the Warriors had brought a six-point Tigers lead all the way down to only one point, 66-67, time down to a little over 20 seconds. Casajeros had already rattled in a three-pointer from the right quarter-court on the play previous, again off a Sumang assist, a kick-out pass after the pointguard drove into the gut of the UST defense.

    UST head coach Pido Jarencio called his last timeout to map out a play for his boys after Sumang was whistled for his fourth foul as he stopped a driving Ed Daquioag with a grab-and-hold.

    When UST inbounded the ball Daquioag threw a long cross court pass to Kevin Ferrer, with Sumang bothering Ferrer on the UE match-up zone. Ferrer caught the pass but was falling down backwards, and wary of stepping out of bounds, bounced the ball off Sumang's leg. Referees asked for a video review, and it was clearly shown that Ferrer's left heel had touched the white sideline with the basketball still in his hand, and way before he tried to bounce it off Sumang. Possession was awarded to UE. Time was down to a little over 18 seconds.

    It was now UE head coach Boysie Zamar's turn to call his own last timeout. In his huddle he mapped out a simple inbound play. All he wanted was a good inbound so the ball would be in play.

    "Kung sino ang may pinakamalaking puso, siya na ang tumira." That, according to Sumang, was Zamar's bottomline.

    "Kaya nung nakuha ko na bola ako na umatake," he followed up.

    Sumang took the lateral inbound from Casajeros. He checked the clock. He went to his shake-bake, then his crossover, then his hesitation dribble, then he just exploded to the basket with Daquioag and Clark Bautista now both totally ankle-broken. Karim Abdul, who had been a pillar of strength for UST all game long rushed in to help but was also too late. Sumang's layup bounced gently off the back glass and down through the bottom of the net.

    Without a timeout left, the Tigers had to inbound from the opposite baseline. After some scrambling, a loose ball struggle, and the ball finally bouncing out of bounds along the other baseline it was all over. Bedlam ensued as the UE gallery let out long, raucous cheers and jubilant yells. Sumang was once again the hero.

    "He is our heart and our head, so H and H talaga," Zamar declared in the post-game interview.

    After the usual plethora of questions I shook hands with the coach and his superstar.

    "Pare, gumana na 'yung barena mo!" Zamar said with a hearty laugh, referring to this writer's offer to buy the coach a drill for his guys' heads after they ended their Round 1 eliminations with a lackluster win over also-ran State University.

    "Nakachamba na naman, sir." Sumang said in his usal self-effacing manner. He had 20 points and 10 assists in this win.

    "Ano Roi, kaya ba Final 4?" I asked.

    "Kaya sir, sana lang magdere-derecho na din kami, marami pa kaming dadaanan," he answered.

    "Bakit parang pagod na pagod ka?"

    He just laughed it off. He and his coach returned to their dressing room. They have another game this Sunday, a return bout with UP.

    If he is not yet considered as the best pointguard in the UAAP there must be something wrong with the UAAP.

    Super Roi has done it again.
    Philippine Basketball

    Seven countries have earned berths to the 24-team FIBA World Cup (formerly known as the World Basketball Championship) to be held in Madrid , Spain next year from August 30-September 14.
    These are host nation Spain , the reigning Olympic gold medalist United States and the top three three-placers from the FIBA Asia Championship that came to a close last Sunday in Manila – the Islamic Republic of Iran , the Philippines and South Korea .
    Before a mammoth crowd at the Mall of Asia Arena, Iran romped away with its third title in the last four editions of the biennial FIBA Asia competitions with a masterful 85-71 victory over the Philippines in the finals.* Without the Filipinos’ 6-10 naturalized center Marcus Douthit sidelined by a calf injury, Iran’s National Basketball Association (NBA) veteran Hamed Haddadi frolicked in the middle with 29 points and 16 rebounds to catapult his team to a perfect 9-0 record in the 11-day Asian showcase.
    The 7-foot-2, 28-year-old Haddadi also collected his third tournament Most Valuable Player award (tying the record held by China ’s Yao Ming, who earned MVP honors thrice in succession in 2001, 2003 and 2005 when the Mainlanders reigned supreme).*
    Currently an NBA free agent following his release by the Phoenix Suns last June 29, Haddadi topped the tournament in scoring (18.8 ppg), rebounding (10.0 rpg/based on a minimum of four games) and tied for second with South Korea’s Lee Jong-Hyun in blocked shots (1.67 bpg) behind Douthit (2.00 bpg).
    If it were more than a consolation prize, the Philippines will see action in Spain – its first World Cup appearance since it played host to the quadrennial games in 1978.*
    The country actually qualified outright for the 1986 edition – also held in Madrid – after topping the 1985 FIBA Asia Championship (then known as the Asian Basketball Confederation tournament) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia behind American-born recruits Jeff Moore and Dennis Still.* However, the national basketball governing body at the time, the Basketball Association of the Philippines , declined to participate following the political turmoil in Manila and the absence of its major patron.
    South Korea secured the third and final Asian ticket to the Madrid World Cup after crushing Chinese-Taipei, 75-57, in the bronze-medal game.* The Koreans also placed third in the FIBA Asia Championship in Wuhan , China two years ago.
    Meanwhile, the other FIBA continental championships will be held this month and next.
    The Oceania Championship gets underway from August 14-18 in New Zealand and Australia with a two-game, home-and-away series.* Since FIBA Oceania has two automatic berths, both teams have already qualified for the World Cup.* In case the teams split the pair of games, the margin of victory will determine the series winner (a factor in the World Cup draw).* Two years ago, the Boomers registered a 2-0 sweep of the NZ Tall Blacks.
    The Africa Championship will be held from August 20-31 in the Ivory Coast .* The top three squads from the 16-nation cast will gain WC spots.* Tunisia is the reigning titlist after upsetting perennial champion Angola in the finals in Madagascar two years ago.
    The Americas Championship (also known as the Tournament of the Americas ) will be played in Venezuela from August 30 to September 11.* Four of the 10 competing teams will make it to Madrid .* Argentina is the defending champion.* Veteran NBA frontliner Luis Scola will see action for defending champion Argentina but Manu Ginobili won’t.* Having qualified outright for the World Cup (not as the defending WC champion but rather as the reigning Olympic gold medalist), the United States opted not to send an entry to the Americas Championship.
    The European Championship (or more known as the EuroBasket) will be hosted by Slovenia from September 4-22.* Six teams (the semifinalists and the fifth-placer) from the 23-nation cast will gain WC spots.
    Automatic qualifier Spain has opted to suit up in the EuroBasket where it is the defending champion. *Should the Spaniards finish among the top six, the seventh-placer would take their place.
    Each continent has been allocated at least two WC tickets, with additional spots awarded according to the strength of the teams within each zone.
    After the continental championships are over, four more wildcard berths will be awarded by the FIBA to complete the 24-team World Cup roster.* The FIBA is not allowed to select more than three teams from the same continental zone.
    I presume there is a pre-WC qualifying tournament next year to determine the four wildcard berths although scuttlebutt has it that the FIBA plans to sell them to the highest bidder.
    Money buys a World Cup ticket?* China must ...
  4. We're Number 2!

    We're finally going to the World Cup of Basketball.

    Very few people remember we already qualified once before, in a very different era. During the Danding Cojuangco - Ron Jacobs years we actually qualified for the World Basketball Championships, what the basketball world cup used to be called before the NBA (rightly I believe) patented "world championship" for its own league champion. That year was 1986, something we Filipinos probably remember as when shit got real and EDSA happened. Naturally with Danding flying the coop along with the Marcos conjugal dictators and the rest of the lot, we never got around to actually participating in that world championship tournament.

    It was a great time to be a Philippine basketball enthusiast back then. We were Number 1 in Asia. Sure, the competition wasn't all that great, certainly not of the caliber we now routinely face, and we did have three Americans then - Dennis Still, Jeff Moore and Arthur "Chip" Engelland. Jacobs and Conjuangco actually started out with a wholesale importation of eight Americans (including the three holdovers) and then having them naturalized. Still, winning is winning, and that national team certainly did a lot of winning. Those were the guys on their way to the world championships until the whole damn country turned into a revolution circus.

    This time around we only get one American (or any other import of our choice) in 6'11" Marcus Douthit. Every one of the top basketball powers in our part of the world is bigger, stronger. We may be able to match them in terms of talent and skill, maybe we're even a little better, but definitely the size factor favors the opposition. As one Gameface Forum member puts it, we used to be the big swinging d--- in Asian basketball, even if everyone else was bigger and stronger, because we were the only ones who could play the game. When everyone else learned the game, they're being bigger was enough to beat us.

    Still, the FIBA Asia tournament held on home soil was an eye-opener and a breakthrough for our national basketball program. We finally got a huge Korean monkey off our backs be beating Korea 86-79 in the semifinals and ensuring that we would finish on the podium. We did it without Douthit, after the big American re-injured his tender calf near the end of the second period. We did it with a heck of a third period, when we went turbo in transition behind Jayson Castro William and the outside shooting of almost the entire team. Most of all, we did it with a fourth period windup that featured the gargantuan balls of steel of Jimmy Alapag and the gigantic heart of fire of Marc Pingris. "Nilaban namin 'yon para sa bayan," Pingris tearfully said after that game. This was an all-heart win against a favored team and it was enough to put us back on the international basketball map. This has to be the sweetest silver medal finish in the history of Philippine sports.

    National team head coach Chot Reyes can finally silence all of his doubters and critics. His dribble-drive offense predicated on speed demon guards like Castro works. If he had two more legitimately bigger players manning the forward slots we might have had just enough size and strength to beat Iran for the gold medal. 6'7" Jay Washington and 6'7" Kelly Williams certainly would have been first class upgrades over say 6'2" Gary David and 6'3" Larry Fonacier. 6-foot Stanley Pringle, the man making his name in the ASEAN Basketball League would have also been an upgrade over 5'7" LA Tenorio. Certainly Iran's 6'6" swingman "The Iron" Nik Bahrami would have had a harder time trying to get past Washington and / or Williams.

    Now the next goal is to put together a respectable enough showing at the Basketball World Cup in Spain next year. We had a hard enough time trying to stay with 7'2" Iranian center Hamid Ehadadi, strictly an NBA role player, as well as the Korean trio of 6'10" Kim Joo Sung, 6'9" Lee Jong Hyun and 6'9" Yang Dong Gun. It will be more monumental a task in Spain with the Gasol Brothers of Spain who are both legit 7-footers and NBA All Stars, to say nothing of the all-NBA US team.

    Reyes and team management might want to find a replacement for Douthit, who is already 33 years old and has shown that all it takes is one bad misstep from him to shoot the entire team down. Someone a little younger and sturdier with some international and/or legit NBA experience ought to do it. I'm thinking 7'1" former Miami Heat backup center Earl Barron, or if he's stopped being a knucklehead, maybe even 7'1" former PBA Best Import Chris Alexander. Someone just speak up in the comments section if Alexander is actually already 35 years old, because I seem to recall he was only 24 or 25 back in 2008 when last I interviewed the man, which should make him maybe 31 at most by 2014. Barron I think is about that same age as well. When a basketball player reaches 30, every ...
  5. 2013 FIBA Asia Championship: A 3rd Title for PH as Host?

    Not known to most hoop fans from this generation, reigning FIBA Asia titlist China ’s ascension to power only came after the Philippines had dominated the landscape during the 1960s.

    The Philippines’ men’s basketball team took the first two editions of the FIBA Asia Championship – which was then called the Asian Basketball Confederation (ABC) tournament – in 1960 and 1963 in Manila and Taipei, respectively.

    The Filipinos actually emerged as the winners in four of the first seven servings of the FIBA-sanctioned tourney that determines the Asian zone qualifier to the Summer Olympics and World Basketball Championship, the latter of which will be renamed as the FIBA World Cup next year in Madrid , Spain .

    Our boys romped away with their fifth and most recent FIBA Asia crown in 1985.

    During the December 28, 1985-January 5, 1986 competitions in Ipoh, Malaysia, the Philippines swept all of its games in the single round-robin tournament (there were no playoffs at the time), including a 76-72 victory over second-placer South Korea and an 82-72 triumph over third-placer China.

    Coach by American Ron Jacobs, the Nationals relied on the services of naturalized players Jeff Moore and Dennis Still and locals such as Allan Caidic, Avelino (Samboy) Lim, Franz Pumaren, Hector Calma and the late Alfie Almario.

    Outside of its success in the 1985 FIBA Asia meet, the Philippines’ men’s basketball team has been performing miserably at the Asian level since the mid-1970s, or following the birth of the professional Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) league in March 1975.

    Employing exclusively players from the amateur ranks, the Filipinos have ranked no higher than fourth in the succeeding FIBA Asia tournaments. That’s also even after the country started to utilize the PBA pros in 2007.

    The Philippines placed fifth in 1975, fifth again in 1977, fourth in 1979, fourth again in 1981, ninth in 1983, fourth in 1987, eighth in 1989, seventh in 1991, 11th in 1993, 12th in 1995, ninth in 1997, 11th in 1999 and 15th in 2003.

    The country failed to send a team in 2001 and 2005 after being suspended by the FIBA both times due to leadership problems within the national basketball federation.

    In 2007, a change in the local basketball leadership was supposed to bring a ray of hope for our hoops-crazy country. Instead, the Filipinos continue to struggle as Middle East countries like Lebanon (which was unable to see action in the ongoing 27th FIBA Asia competitions in Manila due to a FIBA suspension brought about by a leadership squabble in its national federation), Jordan, Qatar and the Islamic Republic of Iran have joined traditional powerhouses like China, South Korea, Chinese-Taipei and Japan in contending for the crown.

    In the 2007 FIBA Asia edition in Tokushima, Japan, a PBA-dominated PH national squad ranked a embarrassing ninth after failing to hurdle the preliminary phase. Behind future NBA player Hamed Haddadi , Iran beat Lebanon (the runner-up in 2001, 2005 and 2007), 74-69, in the finals for its first FIBA Asia crown ever. China placed 10th, having sent only its Team B because it had already qualified automatically for the 2008 Beijing Olympics as the host team.

    Two years later in Tianjin , China , the Filipinos also were bannered by professionals from the PBA and “improved” to eighth. Iran, again powered by back-to-back FIBA Asia Most Valuable Player awardee Haddadi, humiliated the host Chinese, 70-52, in the finals to retain its title.

    In 2011, in Wuhan , China , the Philippines settled for fourth place after dropping a 70-68 decision despite leading most of the way against South Korea in the bronze-medal game. Not even the presence of a naturalized player, American Marcus Douthit, for the first time since 1985 could turn the tide as the Filipinos failed to repeat over Jordan in the semifinals with a 75-61 loss. China regained the title, its 15th in 19 appearances overall, after edging the Jordanians, 70-69, in the finals. Iran fell to Jordan , 88-84, in the knockout quarterfinal round.

    This time around, Douthit and 11 PBA stars that compose the current Team Pilipinas can only hope that Lady Luck finally smiles on them in the 27th FIBA Asia Championship in Manila .

    The torturous road map to end the 28-year title drought begins on Friday, August 9, with the crucial eight-team single-game quarterfinal phase (third round) that sends the four matchup winners to the Final Foul (or medal round) and gives them an opportunity to secure one of the three tickets to next year’s 24-nation FIBA World Cup in Madrid, Spain.

    On the two previous instances (1960 and 1973) that the Philippines had hosted the FIBA Asia Championship, it romped away with the title.
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