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Iraq drub Qatar with strong finish

TEHRAN (FIBA Asia Challenge 2016) – Iraq leaned on naturalized player Kevin Galloway and a strong finish in the fourth quarter to book their first win of the FIBA Asia Challenge 2016 at the expense of Qatar, 71-54. This result gives Iraq a share of the lead in Group C together with hosts Iran.

Turning Point: Qatar last threatened Iraq in the middle of the third quarter after Mohd Mohamed cut the deficit to just 29-28. Iraq, however, went on a tear, outscoring Qatar, 19-11, for the rest of the quarter to head into the final period up by nine points, 48-39. Iraq never looked back afterwards.

Stats Don't Lie: Turnovers killed Qatar here. Iraq forced Al Annabi to commit 20 turnovers by games’s end, converting these into 28 points off turnovers. Four Qatari players turned the ball over at least three times, while Iraq’s Ali Ismael recorded 5 steals.

Game Hero: Naturalized player Kevin Galloway dropped a game-high 21 points for Iraq, giving them a near-unstoppable offensive weapon from the perimeter. Galloway hit 5 three-pointers in the game on top of 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and a block. If he continues to be this productive, Iraq may just be a dark horse podium contender in this competition.

The Bottom Line: Given their inexperience at this level, Iraq were not the favorites in this match up, but they more than proved their worth by fashioning out this rout of Gulf powerhouse Qatar. The Qataris return to the drawing board and now have to beat at least two of the teams in Group D to make it to the Quarter-Finals.