Twenty-three points from floor leader Sam Daghles helped Jordan upset the odds with an 88-84 win over champions Iran in the quarter-finals of the Asian championships on Friday.
Daghles scored seven of his points in the last minute as the Jordanians, aided by a barrage of three pointers, toppled their long-time rivals and spoiled Iran’s hopes of taking a third straight Asian championship and a ticket to the 2012 London Olympics.
“I’m very proud of our team, it was a team effort, this was a win our country needed,” an elated Daghles said.
“We just gave ourselves a big shot at making the final by beating the number one seed.”
In Saturday’s semi-finals, Jordan will face the Philippines, who beat Taiwan 95-78. In the second semi-final South Korea, 86-67 victors over Japan, will face hosts China, who dispatched Lebanon 68-48.
Iran’s towering centre Hamed Haddadi bagged 27 points and 14 rebounds, but made a costly flagrant foul with his team behind 80-79, giving Jordan two free throws and the ball with just over a minute remaining.
Daghles made both free throws and Iran’s last gasp effort at overtaking Jordan fell short.
“We shot well tonight, we were more focused than previous games,” Jordan’s coach Tab Baldwin said.
“The other thing, we wanted Haddadi to score, we didn’t want anyone else to score. He got his 27, but we limited what the other guys got.”
Jordan hit 10 out of 23 three point shots on the day, including four from centre Zaid Alkhas who scored 14. It was a closely fought game that saw 11 lead changes and five ties.
“Today we played like babies, we didn’t have a chance,” guard Saeid Karekani said of Iran’s first loss after six early round victories.
“Jordan shot very well, we played very bad and we shot bad.”
Although the Iranian loss made hosts China the tournament favorite, it seemed no one had told Lebanon, who put on a spirited first half battle that had them leading briefly before closing the period down only 28-22.
But a 10-0 run early in the second half put China up for good and the hosts cruised to an easy win behind 13 points from point guard Liu Wei and 12 points apiece from Washington Wizard Yi Jianlian and former Dallas Maverick Wang Zhizhi.
In another quarter-final, South Korea beat Japan 86-67 with Moon Tae-Jong scoring 17 points and giant centre Ha Seung-Jin tallying 14 points and eight rebounds for the winners.
South Korea used their speed to jump out to a 25 point lead in the first half, dominating their rivals, and grabbing 20 offensive rebounds that led to 20 second half points.
“This is a very disappointing moment for this team, we have worked really hard for two years to have this game to get to the final four of the Asian Championships,” Japan’s coach Thomas Wisman said.
“We have not beat South Korea for 14 years in an Asian championship, that is something we have to look at, we played like we didn’t believe, we played passively, we were comprehensively out-played.”
In a later quarter-final, the Philippines beat Taiwan, with 37 points and 10 rebounds from import centre Marcus Douthit, who is leading the tournament in both scoring and rebounds.
“This is a historic game for the Philippines to get to the quarterfinals,” Philippine coach Rajko Toroman said.
“So far this is the best result for the Philippines in 23 years, I must really congratulate my players.”
The game was fast-paced and intense with the Philippines taking a 45-42 lead into the half. In the second period, the Filipino defense were able to deny Taiwan shoots, while Douthit dominated the interior.