South Korea and Qatar, the main challengers to the reigning Asian champions mainland China, squared off Monday in a physical and emotional quarterfinal match at the 14th Asian Basketball Confederation (ABC) Championship. With both teams playing aggressively and notching up the fouls, South Korea managed to hold off a fiery Qatar for an 89-72 victory. South Korea began cautiously against a speedy Qatar, led by high flying ABC All-Star Yaseen Mahmoud. Behind 10-6 at the midway point of the first quarter, South Korea began to press the attack and find holes in Qatar’s defence while maintaining control in their own end. Qatar drew within a point as the clock wound down in the first half, but Seo Jang-Hoon hit his shot at the buzzer to put South Korea up 41-38 at the break. In the second half, both sides became more physical in their play and the South Koreans uncharacteristically chalked up the fouls.
Korea’s Cho Sang Hyun fouled out just five minutes into the half with his team up 59 49. Qatar fell behind by double-digits early in the final frame, despite the influential Kim Joo-Sung fouling out with just under five minutes to go in the game. Qatar’s Daoud Daoud also fouled out with the score 82-70 and 94 seconds on the clock. Mahmoud led all scorers with 29 points and had 11 rebounds, while Seo topped the Korean score sheet with 25 points and a game-high 16 rebounds. “They are a good team with a lot of heart,” Mahmoud said. “But the five-hour time difference between here and home is really difficult. We are very tired.” After the match, Qatar coach Rod Popp agreed it was a very physical game but also rued the missed opportunities. “Too many missed free throws out there today. We also gave up too many open shots.
“I thought we played good defence until the end. But the two big things were we shot poorly from the field and also from the free throw line. Qatar made 22 of 36 free throw attempts, while Korea converted 13 of 17,” he said. “I think Korea and China are both very fine teams. China’s size creates a problem, but the Korean’s shooting is also very good. I have a lot of respect for both teams. It will be interesting to see how things unfold as the week goes along,” Popp added. In the classification round to determine the ninth to 14th positions, Hong Kong defeated rivals Singapore 92-71. Samson Sung Fong and Yung Kam wah each had 15 points to lead Hong Kong, while Koh Meng-koon had a game-high 19 points for Singapore. The United Arab Emirates had no trouble disposing of Thailand 83-63. Ibrahim Khalfan led UAE with a game-high 18 points. Shongphop Phairotepeeraphais and Chainarong Soontreeyapas each had 11 points for Thailand. In the other quarterfinal game, Japan demolished the Chinese Taipei 69-60.