Iran fall short against Japan at FIBA World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers

September 17, 2018

TEHRAN – Four days after defeating the Philippines 81-73 at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers, Iran suffered a defeat against Japan.

In the match held at the Ota City General Gymnasium in Tokyo, Japan, Team Melli lost to the hosts 70-56 in Pool F.

A couple of key Iranian players were absent, and Japan took full advantage, notching their fourth triumph in succession, 70-56, and putting themselves in prime position to threaten the teams at the top half of the Group F team standings.

Bucking the absence of veterans Hamed Haddadi and Samad Nikkhah Bahrami, who were both sidelined with injury, Iran rode the hot shooting of Behnam Yakhchali in the first half, but Japan head coach Julio Lamas made key adjustments that enabled the hosts to turn the tables around int he second half.

The Akatsuki Five went on a telling 26-8 blast in the third quarter, erecting a double-digit lead from which Team Melli could not recover. The home team were on cruise control entering the fourth period and proceeded to treat the sellout Ota Gymnasium crowd to yet another pulsating win.

The dynamic duo of Rui Hachimura and Yuta Watanabe once again served notice of Japan's bright future. Hachimura scored 25 points, grabbed 7 rebounds and had 3 assists in another stellar showing, while Watanabe added 18 points of his own. Even without big man Nick Fazekas, it's clear Japan have more than enough firepower to beat even the strongest of Asian squads.

As for Iran, Yakhchali finished with a team-high 21 points, while Meisam Mirazaei tried his best to anchor the middle for the visitors with 10 points and 8 rebounds.

Things won't get any easier for Iran as their next game is on the road against Australia on 30 November even as Japan play host once more this time to Qatar also on the same date, fiba.com reported.

Iran fall to six wins and two losses in Group F, while Japan are knocking on the door of the top three with four wins and four defeats.

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