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5 Sajjad Mashayekhi (IRI)
Game Report
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Iran overwhelm West Asia rivals Iraq

TEHRAN (2016 FIBA Asia Challenge) – Iran hardly wasted any time in asserting their might as they overwhelmed fellow West Asian side Iraq, 94-51, in the FIBA Asia Challenge 2016 in Tehran, Iran. This was Iran’s second straight win and propelled them undefeated into the next round.

Turning Point: Iran started the game strong, scoring 11 of the first 13 points to erect a 9-point lead with under 7 minutes to go in the first quarter. That initial run gave the hosts firm control of the game, and they would never relinquish it. Iran led by 13 at the end of the first period, and proceeded to increase that as the game went on.

Stats Don't Lie: Ball movement and defense characterized Iran’s effort in this triumph. Coach Dirk Bauermann’s wards had 17 assists compared to just 9 for Iraq, and they also stole the ball a dozen times, while Iraq managed just 5 swipes. Iran showcased the kind of sublime two-way basketball that has made them perennial title favorites in any Asian tournament.

Game Hero: Arsalan Kazemi didn’t score the most points, but he displayed a solid all-around effort. Kazemi recorded only 8 points, but he also added 11 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals to his name, underscoring Iran’s dominance in this encounter. For sure, more good things will be expected of the 1.99m forward in Iran’s remaining games.

The Bottom Line: Iran played the favorites’ role to the hilt in this one. They began the game well, and they ended it on a strong note, too. As expected, they come out of Group C undefeated as the top team, and they will face lowly Thailand tomorrow. Iraq, despite the loss, have given a respectable account of themselves, but they will have to play better against bona fide contender Japan on Day 4.