Six closely contested FIBA Asia Champions Cup games worth watching again
BEIRUT (Lebanon) - There are not many more exciting moments in basketball as the last few moments of a tightly contested game. Fans of the FIBA Asia Champions Cup have been treated to a handful of these games over the years, which is a reason why everyone should keep on coming back for more.
Here are 6 games from the past three competitions that went down to the wire and truly deserve another viewing!
Al Riyadi vs Hyundai Mobis Phoebus (FIBA Asia Champions Cup 2019)
The 2019 finalist Al Riyadi had a memorable run up until the championship game. It didn’t take long for them to get into the entertainment mode and they immediately gave the spectators their money’s worth right in the very first game.
Everything was perfectly set in place for the eventual result of the Riyadi’s first game against Hyundai. Riyadi were bouncing back from a disappointing finish in 2018. Wael Arakji was returning to the competition after missing out the previous year on a knee injury. The stage was set.
Arakji ended up with a personal Asia Champions Cup-high of 38 points, especially two of the most important shots of the game. The Phoebus had controlled the tempo for most of the game, but Riyadi never backed down. The lead flipped back and forth 21 times during the entire game, especially in the last minutes of the 4th quarter, to keep all fans at the edge of their seats.
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In the end, it was Arakji who put in the layup to force and extra period and the go-ahead game-winning basket in overtime to give Riyadi a win in the first game of their road to redemption.
Al Riyadi vs Alvark Tokyo (FIBA Asia Champions Cup 2019)
Less than 24 hours later, Riyadi were back at it again.
Before these two teams would face in the 2019 championship game, they had already faced in an intense game during the Group Phase. Riyadi looked like they were in control, building up a lead by as much as 12 points but Alvark weren’t ready to give in.
A flurry of threes made it a close game in the 4th quarter and a banking three-pointer by Genki Kojima tied the game at 75 with only 4.1 seconds left in the game. Everyone seemed ready for at least another 5 minutes of action and another overtime game for Riyadi.
Wael Arakji had other ideas. After taking the ball from the inbound, Arakji rose from just above the free-throw line and drilled the mid-range jumper right in the face of Kojima at the buzzer.
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Alvark eventually got their revenge by winning the rematch in the Final, but it truly was a moment to remember.
Mono Vampire Basketball Club vs Pauian Archiland (FIBA Asia Champions Cup 2018)
Speaking of thrilling, high stake, game-winning shots, the 2018 edition of the FIBA Asia Champions Cup featured one of the most dramatic shots yet in the recent years.
In the final day of the competition, Chinese Taipei champions Pauian faced the hosts and Thailand champions Mono Vampire Basketball Club. It had been a tightly contested game throughout the first half, but Pauian were starting to breakaway in the 4th quarter. Pauian had built up their biggest lead of the game at 14 points and with less that 2 minutes left, they were still up by 8 points.
Then, Marcus Keene happened.
The eventual co-leading scorer of the tournament had 21 points at the 2-minute mark of the final quarter before going on a personal 9-2 run to bring the Vampire to within 2 points. He calmly set himself up for the final shot with the clock winding down and nailed the go-ahead three for the win.
Just listen to that crowd roar.
PS. Mono Vampire are used to these close games at the FIBA Asia Champions Cup. Just check out their 2017 matchups against Dacin Tigers and Sarayyet Ramallah.
Petrochimi vs Alvark Tokyo (FIBA Asia Champions Cup 2018)
This was one of the best championship games in the past years of the Champions Cup between two very good teams.
Petrochimi had taken over in the second half after a nightmare second quarter by Alvark that saw them go scoreless for nearly 6 minutes. True to form of Alvark that never gives up, the B.League champions rallied back furiously and even tied the game up at 61 midway through the last period. The final possessions were suffocating and it was with the 4 points from top scorer Meisam Mirzaeitalarposhti that secured the lead and the win for Petrochimi.
It was a breakthrough win for Petrochimi who had failed to get past the Semi-final stages in the past 2 competitions to claim the club’s first ever Asia Champions Cup title. For Alvark, it was a heartbreaking loss, but it seemed to be the fuel that they had needed to turn things around and come back to win the tournament in the following year.
Meralco Bolts vs SK Knights (FIBA Asia Champions Cup 2018)
You know how the saying goes: It’s more fun… when the Philippines plays Korea!
The Meralco Bolts were up against the KBL champs SK Knights in a battle for 3rd place. They swapped holding onto their biggest leads in the middle of the game, but other than that, it was tight.
The lead changed hands 18 times the entire game, though it would happen only once in the final quarter. The Knights took the lead for good early in the 4th, but the Bolts never allowed them to runaway with the lead. Lee Hyeonseok made 3 out of his last 4 free-throws to ice the game and silence the Filipino fans.
The Philippines and Korea have a long history against each other on the hardwood and that rivalry extended to the FIBA Asia Champions Cup, resulting in another clash to remember.
Petrochimi vs BC Astana (FIBA Asia Champions Cup 2017)
Before Petrochimi could rise to become the winners of the FIBA Asia Champions Cup in 2018, they had to go through some tough times. One of those more notable rough moments was an exhilarating game against Kazakhstan’s BC Astana in the 3rd-place game at Asia Champions Cup 2017.
Petrochimi were heading into the game after a loss in the Semi-finals for a second straight year, but were determined to bounce back and finish on the podium. However, they were up against BC Astana who had already claimed the victory in their first matchup. Petrochimi had led by as much a 20 points in the first game, but Astana roared back and won on a free-throw made by Anthony Clemmons.
There would be no big leads in the rematch on the final day. Both teams stayed within shooting distance of each other with no one up by as much as 7 points at any point of the game. The lead went back and forth and all seemed well for Petrochimi when Arsalan Kazemi slipped through the backdoor for a throwdown plus the foul. Kazemi put his team up by 3 points at 78-75 with only 2 minutes to go.
Petrochimi would not score again.
Astana’s Rustam Yargaliyev tied the game on a three-pointer shortly after and clutch free-throws by Clemmons ended yet another heartbreaking run through the Asia Champions Cup for Petrochimi.