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Ten memorable takeaways from FIBA Asia Cup 2017

BEIRUT (FIBA Asia Cup 2017) - We all bore witness to an amazing FIBA Asia Cup in the last two weeks, and now it's time to look back and appreciate some of the most memorable moments from this landmark event.

Here are ten valuable takeaways from the FIBA Asia Cup 2017.

Gilas payback against China

The Philippines were still smarting from losing in the 2015 Final, but they unloaded all that pent up emotion on China right on Day 2, beating the defending champions, 96-87. Terrence Romeo caught fire in this game, serving notice that he was ready to take over Jayson Castro's role as the Philippines' top point guard.

Syria return with aplomb

It has been six years since the Syrians last played on the top continental basketball competition in Asia, but they sure made an impression in Beirut. They very nearly tripped Jordan on Day 2, outlasted India on Day 6 and should have closed out China in the Qualification to the Quarter-Finals. They were just a few breaks away from a sure-fire top 8 finish.

Iraq with historic win

Three decades - that's how long it took for Iraq to return to the top level of Asian hoops, and how did they kick things off? By beating Gulf champions Qatar and barging into the Qualification to the Quarter-Finals. They gave the Philippines, China and Jordan some scares, and they will certainly make a lot more noise when the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers commence.

Lebanon's hosting

This was the first-ever FIBA Asia Cup held in West Asia, and there was certainly no better place to host it other than Beirut. The Lebanese's love for basketball is legendary, and they definitely wore their hoops hearts on their sleeves on every game day. The Nouhad Nawfal Sports Complex was brimming with energy and rocking like crazy, and that's exactly the kind of atmosphere every Asia Cup needs to have.

Boomers and Tall Blacks debut

Day 1 win!

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This tournament will go down in history as the one where Australia and New Zealand made their grand debut in the FIBA Asia scene. As expected, both did quite well, with the Tall Blacks finishing in the top 4 and, of course, the Aussies taking the top prize. Their entry has certainly changed the landscape of Asian basketball forever, and all the other countries will be forced to raise their level.

Asia Cup farewells

The FIBA Asia Cup 2017 ushered in a new beginning for Asian basketball, but it also saw the farewell for some of the continent's most recognizable stars. Fadi El Khatib officially retired in front of throngs of adoring home fans, while aging veterans Micheal Madanly, Oshin Sahakian, Jayson Castro and Gabe Norwood have most probably played in their final Asia Cup as well.

Haddadi hailed as first-ever FIBA Asia Cup MVP

اين چهارمين بار بود كه تونستم اين عنوان رو براي بسكتبال كشورم بدست بيارم و حسم قابل توصيف نيست. تنها چيزي كه الان تو ذهنم مياد اينه كه تيم خيلي زحمت كشيد. از همه بچه ها تشكر مي كنم كه با تمام وجود جنگيدن. از همتون ممنونم كه به من اعتماد و تحملم كردين. تورنمنت سختي بود و من نتونستم با آمادگي كامل كنارتون باشم اما شما جنگيدين و من رو باور كردين. همين اعتماد و باور شما باعث شد كه من بتونم مبارزه كنم و تو زمين بمونم. خيلي دوست داشتم اين تورنمنت با قهرماني برامون تموم شه اما همه ديدن كه استراليا با اينكه چند بازيكن اصليش رو نداشت بازهم خيلي خوب بود و برنده شد. به نظرم بايد رقابت با اين تيم رو به فال نيك بگيريم چون حضور استراليا تو آسيا باعث رشد خودمون ميشه. هرچي بيشتر با اين تيم بازي كنيم بهتر و بهتر مي شيم و مطمئنم كه دوباره به اونجايي كه واسه ماست مي رسيم...ممنونم از همتون#ايران 🇮🇷🇮🇷

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Iran may have fallen short of hoisting the FIBA Asia Cup title, but they can take consolation in Hamed Haddadi's being named Most Valuable Player. Haddadi was stellar throughout the tournament in terms of scoring, rebounding, blocking and, most surprisingly, playmaking. The hulking 2.18m center is also already 32 years old, so we may have actually seen him in his final Asia Cup tour of duty as well.

Korea's return to the podium

모두들 먼 타지에서 고생많으셨습니다👏

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Korea were a frustrated bunch in 2015 after they failed to make it to the Semi-Finals, but they more than made up for it here with a stirring run all the way to third-place. Coach Hur Jae's squad dropped their opener to the hosts, but they shocked everyone with big wins over contenders New Zealand in the group phase and erstwhile unbeaten Philippines in the Quarter-Finals. They repeated the feat over the Tall Blacks on the last day, formalizing their place on the podium.

Boomers win big!

Australia came in to this tournament without most of their big name players, but they proved just how deep their talent pool was with a bona fide romp to the crown. With NBL stars Mitch Creek, Daniel Kickert and Matt Hodgson leading the way, the Boomers obliterated all the competition, and served notice that they are the gold standard in FIBA Asia.

Emerging stars

Many players lit up the scoreboard and filled up the YouTube highlights, but we should all take special notice of emerging stars Mitch Creek, Wael Arakji, Finn Delany and Hu Jinqiu. The way he played, Creek will probably be a fixture of Australia in the next few years, which can also be said of standout Lebanese floor general Wael Arakji, who came up huge in several games despite missing Lebanon's final two contests. Delany was an athletic freak for New Zealand, showing everyone what the right balance of hops and aggression can do, while Hu was a steady inside force for China. We will probably see the 2.10m, 19-year-old center in the next few Asia Cups for Team Dragon.