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China, Philippines reach title game

CHANGSHA-HUNAN (2015 FIBA Asia Championship) - China and the Philippines will square off for the FIBA Asia Championship title on Saturday and a spot at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

China advanced to the Final by beating Iran, 70-57, to remain unbeaten in the tournament.

Rolling to an eighth victory in as many games, China spread their points around and led from start to finish, brining the title defense of the Iranians to an end.

Gong Luming's side raced into a 21-12 lead by the end of the first quarter and kept the pressure on Iran, who had won three of the last four Asian Championships but showed their vulnerability in a defeat to the Philippines earlier in the tournament.

Iran were a woeful two of 16 from three-point range.

China are now just one victory away from a spot in the Rio de Janeiro Games.

The Philippines had to pull out all stops on Friday but beat Japan, 81-70, to reach the Final of this event for the second consecutive time.

With Jayson Castro and Andray Blatche again supplying plenty of points, rebounds, assists and energy, the Philippines also got a shot in the arm from several others to see off a Japanese team that played with tremendous resolve and at times looked like a side that would go on to win.

Philippines captain Donaldo Hontiveros hit a tournament high six three-pointers, including three in the fourth quarter, to help Tab Baldwin's side. If he was the X-factor, Ranidel de Ocampo and Gabe Norwood were close seconds.

De Ocampo had 7 rebounds and 2 steals to go with his 8 points and Norwood excelled defensively, coming up with a couple of steals and a block to go with 5 rebounds.

Japan's Makoto Hiejima had 28 points - 22 in the first half - but the Far East side wasn't able to set up a Final showdown with China.

"I think Japan deserves an awful lot of credit," Philippines coach Tab Baldwin said.

"They could easily have won that game. It was an outstanding game of basketball. I thought our guys just made a few more plays in the last minute and a half and they didn't."

Castro was the Philippines player who held his team together for the first three quarters with his solid, gutsy play. He finished with 20 points, 7 assists and 2 steals.

Both the Iranians and Japanese will take part in a FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) next year.

Earlier in the day, Kazakhstan beat Hong Kong in the 11th-12th place battle, and Jordan defeated Palestine 94-82 to in the 9th-10th place game.

In Classification Round games for the 5-8 spots, Korea won 117-72 over India and Lebanon edged Qatar, 89-86.

Korea will meet Lebanon in the 5th-6th place game on Saturday and India will go up against Qatar in the 7th-8th place game.