2013 FIBA Asia Championship Quarterfinal Previews and Predictions
MANILA, Philippines -- This is it. Our team is on the brink of settling old scores, breaking curses and making history.
Gilas Pilipinas has had many ups and downs in the tournament. They were scorching hot against Japan, but they played below their abilities against Hong Kong. We saw guys like Japeth Aguilar step up big time and witnessed how Gary David struggled game after game.
Still, the inconsistencies notwithstanding, I feel good about our chances. We got the match-up we wanted, and should we prevail, both Korea and Qatar are also better match-ups compared to the colossi of China and Iran.
Of course, that doesn't mean we're a shoo-in. Hell no. We still have prove ourselves on the court.
In fact, every team, China, Iran, and Korea all included, will still have to earn those tickets to Spain on the hardwood. Iran has been practically invincible, but, like 2011, they can be upset. China remains shaky at the PG position, while the law of averages is bound to catch-up with Korea.
It is in this spirit that I will look at each of the quarterfinal match-ups. I will try to dissect how each game will probably go, and who the probable survivors would be. Naturally, there are clear-cut favorites, but, again, that doesn't mean wins will come easily.
Iran will win because its terrific trio of Hamed Haddadi, Samad Nikkhah Nahrami, and Mahdi Kamrani has just been awesome. Haddadi will be fresh, considering he averages only about 20 minutes per game. Bahrami is in peak form, and Kamrani has, hands down, been the best all-around PG of the competition. The Iranians are also wary of what happened in 2011, when they underestimated the Jordanians in this very same round. They won't be making the same mistake again.
Jordan will win because I don't think we have seen the best of Jimmy Baxter yet. Based on this guy's skill-set, he should be scoring in the high 20s, but right now he averages a paltry 11.6ppg. If he can manage to Drop a big game on Iran, then Jordan should make things very interesting to say the least.
Oh, and if shooters like Wesam Al Sous, Mahmoud Abdeen, and Mohammad Hadrab catch fire, this won't be as one-sided as some people might assume. Remember, this same Jordanian team lost to this same Iranian team in the 2013 Jones Cup by just single digits.
I'm picking IRAN as an 80-20 favorite.
South Korea will win because, outside of Iran, this has been the most efficient and consistent team of the tournament. Coach Yoo Jae-Hak also has a very balanced team, with the scoring well-spread among a lot of players. There are six guys on this squad who average 7 or more points per game, led by gunner Cho Sung-Min. The others are guards Kim Min-Goo and Kim Sun-Hyung, while big men Kim Joo-Sung, Lee Seung-Jun, and Lee Jong-Hyun have also proven to be potent scorers. As long as Korea plays its normal game, then they should get by Qatar.
Qatar will win because of its physicality and the momentum it gained after beating Taiwan. The loss to Gilas should have deflated Al Ennabi, but, instead, the Qataris rallied to deal Chinese-Taipei its first loss and are now legitimate threats to the Koreans.
There are four guys who score 10 or more points on this team, and coach Tom Wisman will need every single one of them to be on-target if Qatar hopes to crash the semifinals. Also, guys like Yasseen Musa, Erfan Ali Saeed, and Mohammed Yousef will need to be rock-solid in the paint as the Koreans haven't proven to be the best rebounders so far (QAT grabs nearly 44rpg, while KOR just gets 35.4rpg).
I'm picking SOUTH KOREA as a 60-40 favorite
China will win because it's just a deeper team, and, well, Yi Jianlian should be fresh and ready to dominate. Taiwan's tallest players are Quincy Davis and Tseng Wen-Ting, both of whom stand 6'8", while about half of China's team is 6'9" or taller.
I don't see coach Giannakis Panagiotis holding back in this one, so we should see the brand of Chinese basketball we've been used to. That means guys like Wang Shipeng should rain down those threes, while Yi and the other two Wangs -- Zhizhi and Zhelin -- should lord it down low.
Chinese Taipei will win because its shooters can catch fire at the drop of a hat. Even if he didn't score in the Qatar loss, Lin Chih-Chieh is the type of player who can make things happen in a snap. I expect him to drop a big game on the Chinese, while also finding snipers like Lu Cheng-Ju, Yang Chin-Min, and Tien Lei open to drain those triples.
A key will be the PG position. If Lee Hsueh-Lin can orchestrate things well on offense and be pesky against China's inexperienced playmakers, then Taiwan has an outside chance of making the biggest upset of the tournament.
I'm picking CHINA as an 80-20 favorite.
The Philippines will win because this is exactly the QF match-up the team has been preparing for since before the tournament opened. The Pinoys will also be extra-motivated to beat Kazakhstan, since the last time any Philippine team has beaten the Snow Leopards in official FIBA Asia/ABC play was, if I remember correctly, way back in the 1998 Bangkok Asian Games (twice at that).
The advantages of Gilas, of course, will be speed, shooting, and Marcus Douthit. If coach Chot Reyes's wards can force turnovers and get in transition, they will be tough to stop. Likewise if shooters like Jeff Chan, Larry Fonacier, and, please, Gary David can find their mark. The main key, however, will be Douthit. If he's reasonably healthy and mobile, then a return trip to the final four should be in the horizon for Gilas.
Kazakhstan will win because they have good size at every position and, should he play, Jerry Johnson should be more than a match for any of Gilas's guards. At any point in the game, coach Matteo Boniciolii can insert a myriad of bigs to make life tough for Marcus -- Anton Ponomarev, Leonid Bondarovich, Vitaliy Lapchenko, Alex Zhigulin, Dimo Klimov, and Mikhail Yevstigneyev. All those guys are bruisers, and most of them have decent perimeter game, too.
In the backcourt, Johnson has able partners in the two Rustams -- Yargaliev and Murzagaliev -- both of whom have good vision and court sense. In short, even if this is the perceived "ideal match-up" for Gilas, and even if the Kazakhs lost to Gilas in a tune-up game, this affair will be closer than expected.
I'm picking the PHILIPPINES as a 60-40 favorite. - Rappler.com