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Korea survive rivals Japan in opening game
TEHRAN (FIBA Asia Challenge 2016) – Korea bucked a slow start and kept Japan at bay in the endgame to be the first winners of the FIBA Asia Challenge 2016, 80-73, in Tehran, Iran. This win gives Korea the early lead in Group D of the tournament.
Turning Point: Japan last led at the end of the third quarter thanks to Ira Brown, but they couldn’t get much going to start the final frame. Korea came out of the fourth period with a 9-0 run that gave them enough cushion to cruise to their first win in group play.
Stats Don't Lie: It was a well played defensive game for both teams, but Korea were the ones who capitalized better. Korea forced Japan to commit 14 turnovers and consequently turned these into 22 points. Japan, meanwhile, produced 8 fewer points off Korea’s errors.
Game Hero: Spitfire Korean guard Kim SunHyung led the victors with 22 points, 8 assists, 5 steals and 3 rebounds. He also hit 2 triples and keyed most of Korea’s important moments in the second half. Big man Kim JongKyu also did well with a 13-point, 10-rebound double-double.
The Bottom Line: This match pretty much decided who would top Group D. These East Asian rivals fought hard with similar styles, but in the end the experience and poise of the Koreans proved to be the big difference. Korea take on SEABA team Thailand tomorrow and will probably go up 2-0, while Japan hope to bounce back against the Thais on Day 3.