19 February, 2024
25 February, 2025
21 Jinqiu Hu (CHN)
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Day 1: Australia, Japan, China, Philippines among winners in Asia Cup Qualifiers opener

BEIRUT (Lebanon) - Australia began their title defense bid on a high note, while other perennial continental contenders registered impressive victories in an action-packed opening day of the FIBA Asia Cup 2025 Qualifiers' first window, Thursday.



Australia come from behind, beat Korea

The Boomers avoided the upset ax as they got their act together just in time to take down the hungry Korea, 85-71, in front of their home fans at the Red Energy Arena in Bendigo.

Nick Kay led the way with 21 points and 12 rebounds, joining hands with the debuting Ben Henshall and Dejan Vasiljevic, among others, to orchestrate a huge fourth-quarter that saw the crew erupt for 32 points to complete the rally after being down by 13 early.

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Henshall and Vasiljevic finished with 14 points apiece. Joshua Bannan came through with his own double-double with 11 and 11 for the reigning two-time Asia Cup champions.

Ra Gun Ah, on the other hand, finished with 21 points and 14 rebounds for the visiting side, who relied on stifling defense - and of course, pinpoint accuracy from beyond the arc - to establish control of the game early until the unfortunate second-half collapse.

Big second half propel Japan past Guam

Over at Tokyo, Japan put on a strong second-half performance to beat Guam, 77-56, before 8,526 screaming soles that trooped to the Ariake Coliseum.

Yuki Kawamura top-scored in the win with 15 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists as he helped the home team to a 20-8 third-quarter attack to take control of the game after a tepid start. Key as well in the turnaround was Makoto Hiejima, who supplied 12 points on two triples.

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But it was Josh Harrellson who earned much praise, finishing with solid numbers of 11 points and a game-high 21 rebounds on the way to an impressive national team debut.

Leading Guam was Earnest Ross with 14 points and 11 rebounds, with Jericho Cruz and veteran big man Tai Wesley backing him up with 12 points each in the defeat.

New Zealand pull away late versus Chinese Taipei

New Zealand broke away in the fourth quarter and handed Chinese Taipei an 89-69 decimation in an anticlimactic finish at the Taipei Heping Basketball Gymnasium.

The Tall Blacks only held a narrow five-point lead heading into the final frame until Ethan Rusbatch powered a 23-8 outscoring of the home team to get away with the big win.

Rusbatch scored 14 of his 26 points in the deciding chapter.

Tom Vodanovich and Samuel Timmins produced 16 points apiece while Dan Fotu added 14 for New Zealand, who dominated the rebounding battle, 44-20.

Cheng Liu had 20 points to lead Chinese Taipei.

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China hand Mongolia harsh welcome

Balanced scoring led by their young guns enabled China to deal the debuting Mongolia an 80-49 beatdown at the Shaanxi Provincial Gymnasium in Xi'an.

Hu JInqiu led the way with 19 points and 9 rebounds. Runwang Du made 17 points, while Yang Hansen and Zhu Junlong added 13 and 11, respectively, for Team Dragon, which scored 20 points and held their foes to only 7 in the third quarter for a 59-36 lead. 

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Bilguun Battuvshin, meanwhile, had 15 points and 6 rebounds to lead the Blue Wolves. Uuganbayar Tumenbayar was the only other double-digit scorer for their side with 10.

Thailand maul Indonesia at home in clash of SEA rivals

Thailand maximized homecourt advantage and beat Indonesia in a battle between long-time Southeast Asian basketball rivals, 73-56, at the Nimibutr Stadium in Bangkok.

Moses Morgan finished with 24 points to lead the Thais, who seized the upper hand early and never let up on the way to joining Australia as the early winners in Group A.

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Chanatip Jakrawan produced 13 points and 12 rebounds.  Veteran guard Freddie Lish scored 13 points as well, while Nakorn Jaisanuk shot three treys and tallied 11 points.

None except Agassa Goantara finished in double figures for Indonesia with 14.

Buoyed by crowd, Philippines down Hong Kong, China

The Tsuen Wan Stadium felt like homecourt for the Philippines, and they fed off the partisan crowd's energy on the way to handing Hong Kong, China a 94-64 rout.

The returning Justin Brownlee finished with a 16-77 stat line while Kevin Quiambao came through with 15 points as they keyed Gilas' big second half to score the huge W.

Kai Sotto came through with a big double-double with 13 points and 15 rebounds, putting on a performance that left their Filipino fans in attendance delighted. Jamie Malonzo added 11 in the win that also ushered the Tim Cone era in dominant fashion.

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Liung Shiu Wah finished 15 points to lead the home team. Oliver Xu made 13 points while Duncan Reid and Yeung Sui Heung scored 12 apiece in the loss.