The stage is set for quarterfinal action in Manila, Philippines. Here is a breakdown of each match as the tournament swings into the elimination round.
Iran vs. Jordan
Hamed Haddadi is my round robin MVP. The 7’2 big man with a fair NBA resume has been nothing short of dominant during the tournament. Haddadi is averaging 17 points and 8 rebounds in less than 20 minutes of action per game.
Iran, who went undefeated in the round robin, faces a 3-3 Jordan team that edged out Japan on Wednesday to clinch a birth in the quarterfinals.
Remember two years ago; Jordan shocked the Asian world by knocking out Iran in the quarterfinals.
Buddha’s prediction; Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. The only way Iran loses this game is if they beat themselves. Iran + 20.
China vs. Chinese Taipei
Basketball is a team game but often times one individual can carry the weight for 14 others players. For China, his name is Yi Jianlian. He played only two of the six averaging 17 points per contest.
Chinese Taipei has been the cinderella story of the tournament. Their 5-1 record ranks them higher than their better, faster, stronger Chinese opponent. Taipei’s three top scorers Qincy Davis, Lin Chih-Chieh and Tien Lei are all average double figures in points.
Buddha’s prediction: Yi Jianlian will be too much of a force for Taipei. Yi will takeover the game in the fourth quarter to seal the win. China +15
Philippines vs. Kazakhstan
“I am really thinking that it could be Kazakhstan or South Korea for the Philippines in the quarters and I pray it would be South Korea,” said former national team coach Rajko Toroman before the tournament began.
Toroman’s wish did not come true.
“Kazakhstan is very scary. If I have a choice, I will pick Korea. The Kazakhs are working doubly good. They have a European coach, nine of his national players are playing in the same team [back home],” added Toroman.
Toroman may have spoken too soon but one thing is for certain, this has all the tools to be the best match of the quarterfinals.
The Philippines will have the entire nation tuning in while Kazakhstan’s coach has already stated that he is looking forward to playing in front of a sell-out crowd.
The Philippines will have to try and stop Kazakhstan’s lethal point guard Jerry Johnson while the Kazakhs will look to slow down Gilas’ uptempo style of play.
Buddha’s prediction; A few big dunks from the Philippine squad might cause a slight earthquake in Manila but I think the weight of an entire nation puts too much pressure on Gilas down the stretch. Kazakhstan +5.
South Korea vs. Qatar
If Haddadi is the top player of the tournament, then Jae-Hak Yoo is the top coach. What Yoo has done with his Korean squad (5-1) has been nothing short of impressive. Orchestrating set plays with a blitz of off-ball screens allow his players to get easy looks at the basket.
Credit Yoo for having four players shooting over 50 per cent from the floor.
Qatar is no pushover. They finished the round robin at 4-1. Jarvis Hayes, seven year NBA veteran, will have to takeover the game offensively if they want any chance of keeping up to the speedy/streaky Koreans.
Buddha’s prediction; Qatar will need a Manila miracle to pull out a victory over the red-hot Koreans. Korea +12.