Petrochimi settle for third with victory over Al Ahli
CHENZHOU (FIBA Asia Champions Cup 2016) – Petrochimi may have fallen short of giving Iran their sixth FIBA Asia Champions Cup title, but they still managed to finish on the podium after a pulsating 100-74 win over Al Ahli of UAE.
Foreign reinforcement James White put up a nice double-double line to lead the way for Petrochimi, which bounced back from a loss in the Semi-Finals to hosts China Kashgar last night.The Iranian club were able to withstand a huge scoring game from Al Ahli import Samuel Young, who netted 43 points and 10 rebounds. Behnam Yakhchali stepped up for Petrochimi with 22 points on the back of 4 three-pointers, while Gerald Robinson tallied 21 points and 7 assists. Big man Mohammad Hassanzadeh also proved to be effective, scoring 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting on top of 8 boards.
For Al Ahli, only Khalifa Salem score in double-figures outside of Young. The UAE club finished their campaign with a 4-win, 3-loss slate and just missed going on the podium.
Turning Point: Things were close for one whole half in this one as Al Ahli trailed by just 1 point after one quarter and by only 5 points at the half. Coach Mehran Shahintab’s wards, however, flipped the switch in the third period and broke the game open after outscoring their Gulf counterparts, 31-19. The Iranians were in cruise control from then on till the final buzzer.
Stats Don't Lie: Al Ahli did a good job on defense, forcing 21 Iranian turnovers, but Petrochimi compensated by outrebounding their foes, 53-34, and employing better ball movement, which resulted in 22 assists compared to a paltry 5 for the UAE quintet.
Game Hero: James White saved his best performance for last, dropping 22 points on 8-of-15 shooting, including 2 triples. The 2.01m forward also grabbed a personal-high 19 rebounds together with 4 assists, 1 steal and 1 block to spearhead Petrochimi’s charge on the final day.
The Bottom Line: By Iran’s standards, a third place finish seems below par, but that shouldn’t dampen the fact that Petrochimi were still a strong title contender in this tournament. A few unfortunate breaks fell them in the Semi-Finals against hosts China Kashgar, but there is something to be said about bouncing back one day afterwards to beat a gritty Al Ahli and bag third place. The UAE outfit, meanwhile, have nothing to be ashamed of, especially after being one of the most entertaining and energetic squads in the entire field.