The second day of the FIBA Asia Championships concluded early Friday morning and, frankly, there weren't a lot of surprises. Iran, Kazakhstan, Chinese Taipei and the Philippines all clinched berths in the second round while Malaysia once again suffered a 90-point defeat.
It seems as though current NBA free agent Hamed Haddadi is likely the best player in the tournament, but that might only be because reigning MVP Yi Jianlian took Friday's blowout over Malaysia off after having a subpar performance in China's loss to Korea. Regardless, it's going to be tough to top Haddadi's current pace of 25.5 points and 10.5 rebounds while averaging just over 21 minutes of action through Iran's first two games.
Chinese Taipei 90, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 67 -- Chinese Taipei became the first team to advance to the second round of the tournament with their 23-point victory over Saudi Arabia. The victors outscored Saudi Arabia 31-14 in the first quarter and coasted the rest of the way, sitting their starters quite a bit more than they did in the previous game.
Cheng-Ju Lu was Taipei's leading scorer as he shots lights out from beyond the arc, making seven of his 12 three-point attempts on the way to 25 points in 27 minutes. Former Tulane big man Quincy Davis III was solid again Friday morning, too, putting up a double-double with 14 points, 10 rebounds and a pair of blocks.
Saudi Arabia's downfall was essentially their inability to stop Taipei from shooting beyond the arc as the 17-to-2 three-point was the biggest box score disparity. Aymam Almuwallad led his team in scoring once again with 15 points.
Philippines 77, Jordan 71 -- The Philippines clinched a second-round berth with their victory over Jordan Friday morning thanks to a solid all-around effort from their club. Jeffrei Chan, who played for the well-named Rain Or Shine Elasto Painters in his home country this past season, led the Filipino team with 17 points in 25 minutes thanks to a 6-of-10 shooting performance from beyond the arc.
The Philippines also got good efforts from Jayson William -- who scored 15 points and is no relation to the myriad of NBA players with similar names -- along with Ranidel De Ocampo and Marcus Douthit with 11 points apiece. The latter was a second-round pick by the Los Angeles Lakers in 2004, but became a naturalized Filipino in 2011.
Jordan was led by Mohammad Hadrab's 19 points, but likely would've been more competitive if Jimmy Baxter was able to contribute like he did the day before. Jordan's American scored 14 points on 6-of-13 shooting after piling up 30 points in his team's first game.
Next on the schedule: Chinese Taipei will play the Philippines on Saturday to see which team gets the higher seed in the second round while Jordan and Saudi Arabia will face-off with the winner advancing and the loser being eliminated.
Japan 76, Hong Kong 59 -- Hong Kong made its tournament debut on Day 2 due to an interesting scenario that also will allow all three members of Group B to advance to the second round. This game didn't really matter, then, but we'll note that Japan's leading scorer was Naoto Tsuji with 17 points in 21 minutes -- after getting a DNP in Japan's first game -- while Chun Wai Wong scored 23 points in defeat for Hong Kong.
It also might be worth noting that Hong Kong scored 24 points in the first, 16 in the second, 13 in the third and just six in the final stanza. Either Japan figured them out or Hong Kong got tired.
Next on the schedule: Hong Kong will play Qatar to close out Group B's action on Saturday while Japan takes the day off. All three teams automatically will advance to the second round.
China 113, Malaysia 22 -- Malaysia suffered an embarrassing loss to Iran in their first game of the tournament and, unfortunately, the same result happened late Thursday night. The reigning tournament champions rebounded well from their loss to Korea, dismantling Malaysia in a game that saw the losers score double-digit points in just one quarter.
For the conspiracy theorists, the fact that Yi Jianlian didn't suit up for the game probably cannot be attributed to the Ewing Theory. Top young Chinese player Wang Zhelin scored 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds, aging former NBA big Wang Zhizhi scored 17 points in 18 minutes and Sun Yue -- formerly of the Los Angeles Lakers -- struggled en route to just six points in 20 minutes for the victor.
Malaysia struggled mightily, by the way, going just 8-of-44 from the field and turning the ball over a whopping 33 times while forcing China to just four turnovers. Ban Sin Ooi was their main source of points with nine, though he's now turned the ball over 14 times compared to the 11 points he's contributed in two games.
Iran 76, Korea 65 -- The Hamed Haddadi domination continued to roll through the Mall of Asia Arena on Friday morning as Iran picked up another victory in the while clinching a spot in the second round of the tournament. The NBA free agent big scored 30 points and grabbed 13 rebounds while fouling just twice in 30 minutes of playing time to match the tournament's best scoring performance thus far.
Haddadi's teammate, Samad Nikkhah Bahrami, added 23 points and seven rebounds as Iran's only other double-digit scorer. Mohammad Jamshidijafarabadi had just three points and two fouls in 12 minutes.
Korea picked up a huge win over China in their first game of the tournament, but lightning didn't strike twice for the world's 33rd-ranked team. That's in part due to their 6-of-22 shooting performance from beyond the arc and the fact that they were outrebounded by 10, but also because they had no answer for Haddadi's post presence -- despite limiting Yi Jianlian and Wang Zhelin the day before.
Next on the schedule: Iran will try to hold off China on Saturday morning for Group C's top seed while Korea faces Malaysia in a game that won't matter unless Malaysia's somehow able to win ... by 175 points.
Kazakhstan 79, Bahrain 76 (OT) -- The Kazakhs became the first team in Group D to clinch a second-round berth with their three-point overtime victory over Bahrain on Friday morning. The group was probably the easiest to advance out of the three groups that mattered, but it's a nice feather in the cap of the world's 47th-best basketball team.
Kazakhstan was led by 19 points from Rustam Yargaliyev, though American guard Jerri Jonson's 18 and Mikhail Yevstigneyev's 16 points and 10 rebounds were also quite important. Bahrain didn't have any players score more than 14 points, but were somehow still able to force overtime despite shooting 38.9 percent from the field, being outrebounded by 13 and turning the ball over 23 times to Kazakhstan's 15.
India 89, Thailand 65 -- Narender Kumar Grewal scored 24 points for India, leading it to an 89-65 win over Thailand for its first win in group play of the tournament. The 6'1 shooting guard was 10-of-20 from the field, pushing his two-game total from the field to 21-of-36—good for 58.3 percent. He also had six rebounds with just one turnover.
Thailand scored the first point of the game with 8:47 to play in the first quarter on a Darunpong Apiromvilaichai free throw, but it was the only time it would hold a lead the entire game. By the end of the first quarter, India's lead had reached 14 points. Thailand would not get closer than eight points for the rest of the game.
Apiromvilaichai led Thailand with 10 points and three blocks. Vishesh Bhriguvanshi also had 20 points for India.
Next on the schedule: Kazakhstan, which has already clinched, will play India on Saturday in a potential elimination game -- though the results of the Bahrain-Thailand game could mean India's safe regardless of their outcome.