Posted on August 10, 2017
Qatar were beaten by Iraq 66-75 yesterday at the FIBA Asian Cup 2017 basketball tournament. The victory put Iraq in a strong position to advance to the knockout stages.
 
Despite a surge from Qatar in the fourth quarter, Iraq stayed in control from start to finish, led by Kevin Galloway’s 18 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals, Abdulrahman Saad was Qatar’s top performer with a game-high 23 points. Meanwhile, two years after their infamous final loss in Changsha-Hunan, the Philippines dealt sweet vengeance against perennial tormentors China with an 86-97 victory.
 
The Philippines have had a painful history facing China at the continental level, and by all indications, yesterday’s game was supposed to be another notch in China’s favour. Entering this matchup, China had won 6 of their last 9 meetings with the Philippines at the senior men’s level. With 2015 All-Star Five member Guo Ailun leading the way, China were heavily favoured against Gilas Pilipinas, who were without prized naturalised player Andray Blatche and who recently lost key centre June Mar Fajardo to injury.
 
Yesterday though, the Philippines were in overdrive. Coach Chot Reyes’s wards looked every bit like the favourites. They were throwing triple-teams at China, forcing turnovers, running in transition and hitting their three-point bombs. The Filipinos channelled all the pent up frustration of the past and turned it into energy that they used to the hilt. The duo of Jayson Castro and Terrence Romeo proved to be magical again for the Philippines, with Asia Cup newcomers Matthew Wright, Raymond Almazan and Christian Standhardinger also holding their own. Castro had 13 points and 7 assists, while Wright drained 2 triples en route to 12 points. Aguilar, for his part, was a defensive dynamic, recording 5 blocked shots.
 
This result pushed the Philippines as favourites to top Group B, and it will be interesting to see how they approach their next matches against the Qatar and Iraq. Iran sent a message to the rest of Group A with a dominant 101-54 performance over India. Iran jumped out to a 21-point first quarter lead and never looked back, as they faced little resistance from the Indian side. Hadadi led the victors with 20 points and 8 assists, whilst India were led by Amjyot Singh Gill’s 10 points, as the only player in double figures.
 
On Tuesday, hosts Lebanon rode an impressive performance from Wael Arakji to get a 72-66 win over Korea in the final game on opening day of the tournament . Arakji had 22 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals, as Lebanon held off a late charge from the Korean side. Korea were led by 16 points-a-piece from Dongseop Lim and Sekeun Oh. New Zealand steamrolled past Kazakhstan 70-49. New Zealand put the game out of reach in the third quarter, where they outscored Kazakhstan 25-15 and cruised the rest of the way.
 
The 23-year-old Derone Raukawa led the Tall Blacks with 17 points and 6 rebounds, with Finn Delaney adding a 15-point, 10-rebound double-double. Alexandr Zhigulin top scored for Kazakhstan with 9 points.

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