Qatar down Kazakhstan to begin campaign on a winning note

 24 Sep 2015 - 1:21

Qatar down Kazakhstan to begin campaign on a winning note
Action from the Group D match of the FIBA Asia Championship between Kazakhstan and Qatar in China yesterday. Qatar won 79-75. .

CHANGSHA-HUNAN: Kazakhstan’s Pavel Ilin hit a three-pointer with eight seconds left to force overtime but Qatar then prevailed in the teams’ FIBA Asia Championship opener, 79-75, after the extra period.
Clinton Johnson made a pair of free-throws early in the overtime to give Qatar a 73-71 lead and the side coached by Vasileios Fragkias stayed in front the rest of the way.
Kazakhstan led by as many as 12 points in the game but ended up enduring a tough defeat in a hard Group D.
Kazakhstan were within striking distance in the overtime, down 75-72 with 1:59 remaining when Anton Ponomarev drew a foul and went to the charity stripe. He only cashed in on one of his two attempts and Johnson went to the other end and had a three-point lead for a five-point advantage.
Qatar finished with 26 points in the paint to just eight for Kazakhstan and their bench finished with 20 points to just 10 for the opponents.
Johnson was immense for Qatar, not only scoring 31 points and corralling 14 rebounds but making big plays when the game hung in the balance.
Kazakhstan lost a heartbreaker but showed some battling qualities in this contest which suggest they will be tough opposition for the battles ahead. For Qatar, a narrow win bodes well for their campaign.
Meanwhile, Palestine leaned on the endgame heroics of Jamal Abu Shamala and Sani Sakakini to manufacture a stirring upset and open their account, beating heavily-favoured Philippines, 75-73. The Filipinos started the game strong, leading by as many as 16 points in the first quarter, but their guard dropped in the second period and that allowed Palestine to creep back into the match. The Palestinians kept close throughout, finally taking the lead in the fourth quarter. 
Coach Tab Baldwin’s players retook the lead with some great plays from Andray Blatche and Terrence Romeo, but Palestine had one more big run that deflated the much ballyhooed Filipinos.
Jamal Abu Shamala shone the brightest for Palestine with a game-high 26 points, including 6 triples, while brothers Sani Sakakini and Salim Sakakini added 22 and 10 points respectively. Former NBA player Andray Blatche paced the losing side with 21 points and 12 rebounds, but he shot just 7-of-18 from the field.
The Philippine still held a sizeable lead in the fourth period, 71-62, with less than five minutes to play, but Palestine then went on a 10-0 run to snatch the lead in the final 2 minutes. The Filipinos held the advantage for the last time at 73-72 with under a minute to go, but Sani Sakakini was up to the challenge and scored the marginal points to complete the upset.
Also winning yesterday were India and Iran.
India took command of their opening day clash with Malaysia in the first half and then lowered the boom in the third quarter in a 102-73 triumph.
Amjyot Singh had 24 points to lead India in scoring while teammate Akilan Pari contributed 18 points, six rebounds, four assists and a couple of steals. Iran opened their quest for a fourth title by routing Japan, 86-48.
Japan held the initiative early, leading by 3 at the middle of the first quarter, but Iran eventually gained their bearings and banked on the outstanding play of Oshin Sahakian to take the lead for good. Sahakian led the way for Team Melli with 15 points, while Mohammad Hassanzadeh added 13 points off the bench. Iran outclassed their East Asian opponents in practically every category on their way to their first win.  THE PENINSULA