Korea battle New Zealand for final podium spot
BEIRUT (FIBA Asia Cup 2017) - Korea lost a close game to Iran in the Semi-Finals, but they still have a chance to finish on the podium if they can get past newcomers New Zealand today.
Korea were in pretty good shape in the fourth quarter against Iran, but they just could not sustain the momentum. Against a New Zealand team that will try to take advantage of their size, Korea need their shooters to hit their mark again. The Tall Blacks, meanwhile, are smarting from the shellacking they received from neighbors Australia, and they are certainly raring to bounce back and end their first ever FIBA Asia Cup on a good note.
Key Matchups: Speedy guards Kim SunHyung and Shea Ili will face each other tonight, and their duel can pretty much decide who stands and who falls by the game's end. SunHyung did not do much in Korea's loss to Iran in the Semi-Finals, but coach Hur Jae will rely on his star playmaker as they push for their third podium finish in the last four FIBA Asia Cups. Ili, for his part, played quite well for New Zealand last night, putting up 14 points and 4 assists, and the Tall Blacks will probably need the same kind of intensity from him if they are to finish in the competition's top three.
Key Stats: Korea have been one of the tournament's deadliest three-point shooting teams, and they will need that weapon tonight against the Tall Blacks, who love driving to the basket and getting the ball down to their bigs. The Kiwis don't make much of their own threes, which proved to be their bane against the Aussies last night, so if Korea catch fire from deep and are able to limit the production of New Zealand's frontline, the East Asians should eventually find themselves in third place.