We’re getting closer and closer to knowing which three countries will be heading to the FIBA World Cup, as second-round action from the 2013 FIBA Asia Championships is about to get underway.
Group play was exciting, and now that some of the weaker squads have been weeded out, the competition is about to get fierce. The four groups have been comprised into just two—six teams in each—and the top four from each group will be advancing to the final round, set to begin on August 9.
From there, the final eight teams will compete in a single-elimination bracket. While winning the championship is important, it’s much more vital to secure a spot in the top three. The loser of the championship game and the winner of the third-place game will still be clinching a berth to the FIBA World Cup.
That being said, second-round games are essential to a team’s chance of advancing.
There are a few intriguing matchups in the coming days, and they’re ones that you really can’t afford to miss. Undefeated teams will be squaring off against other squads with perfect records, and even teams with a loss should be able to keep games close.
Ahead is the complete schedule for the second round of action from China, as well as three matchups that should be the most fun to watch.
Chinese Taipei vs. Qatar
Chinese Taipei had a few close calls in its three Group A games, but it still finished first in the group with a perfect record. Lin Chih-Chieh has done a fantastic job for his squad throughout the team’s preliminary round matchups. In three games, he’s averaging 18 points per game and shooting 51.6 percent from the floor.
Lu Cheng-Ju has also been a force for Chinese Taipei through the early stages of the tournament. He dropped 25 points and 22 points against Saudi Arabia and the Philippines, respectively. He only scored a pair of points in 11 minutes against Jordan, though. Qatar needs to keep him quiet to avoid a loss.
Chinese Taipei will certainly need to keep an eye on Jarvis Hayes throughout the matchup, as he’s been nearly unstoppable for Qatar through a pair of games. He dropped 20 points on Japan and 25 against Hong Kong. He’s been lethal from downtown, with 6-of-8 shooting from three-point territory.
Iran vs. Kazakhstan
The key to beating Iran is slowing down Hamed Haddadi. The former NBA player has put his team on his back throughout the FIBA Asia 2013 Championship, as Iran is currently the team to beat. Haddadi has been great at grabbing rebounds, but he’s also been very accurate when he shoots the ball.
Haddadi scored 21 points against Malaysia, 30 against Korea and 15 against China. He’s averaging 22 points per game and is shooting 62.5 percent from the floor. Kazakhstan will not win this matchup if it allows Haddadi to get open shots and be a factor on the glass. Kazakhstan would be wise to double-team him.
Kazakhstan is going to rely on Jerri Jonson to lead the team to a victory, as he’s been arguably the best player on the squad so far. He’s averaging 16.3 points and five rebounds per game through three games. All Iran has to do is force him to take outside shots, though. He’s 4-of-17 from three-point range in the tournament.
Bahrain vs. Korea
Bahrain will likely enter this game as the favorite, even though both teams went 2-1 through group play. Korea lost to Iran by 11 points, and Bahrain fell to Kazakhstan by just three. Bahrain has been the much more complete team throughout group play, though, and that’s primarily because of Chester Giles.
Giles has been a big offensive contributor for Bahrain, as he’s averaging 14.3 points per game. But the big story is how many rebounds the center has been grabbing thus far.
He’s finished each of the team’s first three games with at least 12 rebounds. He’s averaging 14.7 boards per night. Korea will struggle to stop him down low.
Korea is going to need to be much more accurate from downtown to come away victorious in this matchup. The team is only shooting 23.6 percent from three-point territory through its first three games. That’s not going to cut it, especially since it likely won’t get many offensive boards with Giles underneath.
All statistics in this article were obtained FIBA.com unless otherwise noted.