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Iran advance as Jordan’s luck runs out in Semi-Finals
TEHRAN (FIBA Asia Challenge 2016) – Jordan came into this game winners of their last five games, but their luck finally ran out as they lost to hosts Iran, 74-63, in the Semi-Finals of FIBA Asia Challenge 2016 in Tehran, Iran.
Jordan’s naturalized player Dar Tucker started hot in this game, scoring 10 of his team’s first 12 points, but not even his individual brilliance could carry Al Nashama into the Final. Coach Sam Daghlas couldn’t get much out of key players Zaid Abbas and Ahmad Al-Hamarsheh here, and that made it even tougher for them to match up with Iran, which saw four players score in double-figures, led by 2.18m behemoth Hamed Haddadi.
Turning Point: Jordan were trailing by just three points entering the fourth quarter, but their rotation was thrown off-kilter when Ali Jamal Zaghab fouled out early in the final frame. That prompted Iran to rattle off seven unanswered points care of a Mohammad Jamshidi three, a Hamed Haddadi inside foray, and a Sajjad Mashayekhi steal that turned into 2 fastbreak points. All of a sudden, Jordan found themselves trailing by 10, and they couldn’t fully recover.
Stats Don't Lie: Playmaking was a major factor in the outcome of this game. With Tucker having a score-first mentality and Iran’s defense reacting well, Jordan had trouble distributing the basketball. Al Nashama ended up with a paltry 6 assists the entire game, while Iran had a dozen. Jamshidi led them in this department with 4 assists.
Game Hero: Hamed Haddadi imposed his will in the paint and around the basket. He has really slowed down the past couple of years, but his basketball IQ and all-around finesse in the shaded lane more than made up for his diminished mobility. Haddadi recorded his first 20-20 ballgame, scoring 26 points and grabbing 20 rebounds on top of 6 blocked shots.
The Bottom Line: Iran were wary of Jordan’s capabilities, but Team Melli prepared really well. Iran’s defense was generally disciplined, and that made it difficult for guys like Abbas and Al-Hamarsheh to get any rhythm. Iran now book a return trip to the Final, one step closer to that third straight tournament title, though they still don’t know they’ll play?