Iran survived an early fourth quarter onslaught to defeat Tunisia, 71-58 in Istanbul – and earn them their first win in a World Championship event.
The fourth quarter brought an amazing sequence, as the Tunisians blasted back from the grave, going on a massive 16-1 run, which included a breakaway dunk from Slimane, and a three-pointer from Nizar Knioua, which closed the gap to just four points (52-56), in an incredible turn of events.
The Iranians answered Tunisia’s challenge – and five quick points from the impressive Arsalan Kazemi gave the Iranians a 64-56 advantage – and from then, they held on.
“This is my first time coaching the team and players of Iran – I’m very happy about this.” Iran coach, Veselin Matic said following the game.
“We prepared well for the game, we watched Tunisia we had a tape – we knew how Tunisia played.”
After the opening exchanges, Iran opened a gap, going on an 11-0 burst to storm ahead, Mahdi Kamrany scoring four of those points, as Iran led 16-9 that run broken by a thunderous dunk from Radmouane Slimane.
Iran were beating Tunisia to the punch, and an up-an-under from the prolific Hamed Hadadi and a buzzer beater from Sahakian gave Iran a commanding 23-11 lead at the end of one.
Iran pushed their lead further in the second, off a Ehadadi triple – which gave them a 15-point advantage, which was answered right back by Mouran Laghnej, which cut the deficit to 12 (16-28).
The last few minutes provided nothing that troubled the scorecard, but one free-throw – as Iran went into the break, 33-23 to the good. Their small, but loud support very happy.
Hadadi opened the third quarter by racking up five straight points, and Javad Davari hit a three to extend Iran’s lead to 41-23 – before Atef Maoua broke the Iranian momentum with a three-pointer of his own.
A huge baseline dunk from Hadadi provided the main highlight of the third period as Iran continued their push to victory, leading 46-28. Forcing Tunisia coach, Atel Tlatli to call a timeout.
Tunisia struggled further, as Iran punished their weak offence set, open up a massive 55-36 lead at the end of three. Then, came an exciting final stanza.
John Hobbs for TalkBasket.net – in Istanbul