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JOR / KAZ – Third quarter blitzkrieg sees Jordan through
KUWAIT (FIBA Asia Stankovic Cup): Jordan ripped open Kazakhstan’s defense in the final 12 minutes to post an 87-70 win in the second FIBA Asia Stankovic Cup on Sunday.
Having hitherto sparred equally, Jordan first posted a 20-6 run to close the third quarter and then continued their rampage in the final ten minutes – out scoring their opponents 22-15 – for the decisive victory.
Jordan, having won all their three games so far, now take on hosts Kuwait on Sunday.
Even a defeat in that game will give Jordan the title, if they lose the game by a close margin.
Kazakhstan, who suffered their first defeat after two successive wins, play India on the final day, are virtually out of the title race.
Jordan who went into the game with a 5-0 head-to-head record – including the 61-39 triumph at the William Jones Cup exactly three months ago – were given a run for their money. At least in the opening phases.
Jordan scored the first points via a Wesam Al-Sous success from the paint and that was the main reason why they managed to remain ahead in the opening quarter.
Kazakhstan, who kept pecking on their rivals’ heels, went ahead for the first time in the game when their U18 star Alexander Tyutyunik scored from near the foul-line midway through the second quarter.
Neither team managed a sizable lead, which kept changing hands often, and Kazakhstan went into the changing rooms 37-34 ahead thanks to Tyutyunik’s long-ranger.
The Middle Asia nation managed to remain ahead, till Jordan skipper Zaid Alkhas struck the form of the tournament as Ayman Idais and Rasheim Wright sparked the 20-6 run, which saw Jordan turn a 45-49 deficit into a 65-55 lead at the end of the third quarter.
Idais scored nine points of his MVP 12 points and Wright accounted for 10 of his game-high 22 points during this period.
“This is what we had been looking right from the game against India,” Alkhas said of the cohesiveness during the run.
“Everything just fell into place the way we wanted. No doubt we were at our best as a team in the last two minutes of third quarter,” he added.
“Things came together finally,” said Wright, who was playing this tournament after a long injury lay-off.
“I hope we can continue like this tomorrow,” Alkhas said of the game against Kuwait.
“We have always done well on the road. So we are ready for them,” Wright said.
“Kuwait will be very difficult to play at home. In my opinion, they are the most dangerous team in Asia,” Jordan coach Mario Palma said.
Tyutyunik topped the scoring for Kazakhstan with 17 points, as Anton Ponomarev and Maxim Voyeikov were curtailed to 11 points each.
Rustam Yargaliyev, the other Kazakh mainstay, returned a mere six points.
“They are a far more experienced side. And that keeps them in good stead always,” Kazakhstan coach Vitaly Strebkov said.
Jordan 87 (Rasheim Wright 22, Wesam Al-Sous 14, Zaid Alkhas 11, Mousa Alawadi 11) bt Kazakhstan 70 (Alexander Tyutyunik 17, Anton Ponomarev 11, Maxim Voyeikov 11). Quarterwise Scores: 20-18, 34-37, 65-55.