The Jones Cup ended today with Iran taking home the championship for the third straight year. Though the Koreans gave Iran a run for their money, Iran were heavily favored to win owing mostly to the presence of 7-foot-2-inch NBA player Haddadi in the team.
Philippine team coach Toroman remarked that Haddadi had improved immensely, making it hard for the Philippines to contain him when the two teams met yesterday in the semifinal round. Toroman was formerly Iran’s national team coach.
In spite of its reputation as the most offensive team in the league, Korea were outgunned by the Iranians when it mattered most. The Koreans held the lead for most of the first half but lost control of the game in the second half. Several times, they came close to tying the match or taking the lead, but did not succeed.
Moon, a naturalized Korean and the team’s versatile scorer, had to be taken out in the first half due to foul trouble. When he was fielded back in during the second half, he could could not find his mark and did not deliver the points for his team. Adding to Korea’s woes is the fouling out of center Ha who was the closest Korea ever got to containing Haddadi.
It was not apparent that Korea were the league’s most offensive team. They struggled with their offense especially in the second half. In the fourth quarter, I expected them to put their offensive guns to good use by outscoring the Iranians who were unstoppable in the paint.
Instead, Korea decided to go inside the paint, instead of shooting from beyond the arch, hoping perhaps to draw the fouls and get Iran into early penalty situation.
However, this didn’t work.
In the end, the better team won, assisted to some measure by poor officiating, which, anyhow, persisted during the entire league.
But ultimately, it was a well-deserved victory for Iran.
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