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Qatar barely scrape by resolute Thailand
Following a majestic triumph by India over China, Thailand was in a ferocious mood. They fell behind after the first quarter, 28-16, but overhauled this and then some in the second period, where they outscored Qatar, 24-7. At the break, the Thais were ahead, 40-35. Qatar retook the lead heading into the fourth quarter, 51-48, before staving off Thailand’s repeated bursts in the endgame to prevail.
Turning Point: When Nattakarn Muangboon’s basket with 7:31 left last tied the game at 53-all, Thailand looked in great shape to spring an upset, but Qatar proved to be the more poised unit in the end. Veterans Erfan Ali Saeed, Hassan Mohamed, Mohd Mohamed and naturalized player Boney Watson took turns delivering baskets for Al Annabi, which finally broke into the win column.
Stats Don't Lie: Thailand shot respectably from long range, but it might have been at the expense of their inside game. Coach Tim Lewis’s wards weren’t aggressive enough in attacking the basket, which resulted in being awarded only 6 free throw attempts the entire game. In contrast, Qatar shot 15 times from the free throw line, making 10.
Game Hero: Old reliable Erfan Ali Saeed didn’t score the most points for Qatar — in fact, he shot a paltry 2-of-7 from the field — but he more than made up for it by grabbing 11 rebounds, handing out 5 assists, netting 2 steals and blocking 2 shots. Saeed’s hustle and energy around the basket enabled other players like Hassan and Mohd to operate more freely from their sweet spots.
The Bottom Line: This win has left the door ajar for Qatar to barge into the Quarter-Finals, though doing so means they will have to beat the mighty Japanese tomorrow. Thailand, meanwhile, have been officially ousted from contention, but they should hold their heads high after taking a high-quality squad like Qatar to the limit.