Iran dominated the field to win the FIBA Asia Championship, but now the focus has turned to the 2014 FIBA World Cup.
Three teams qualified for the international championship set to take place next summer. Unfortunately, it is an event that Asian squads have generally struggled at in the past.
With China not making the cut as one of the more experienced teams in the region, it will be even harder for the delegation to make a deep run in the upcoming tournament.
Still, each of the three teams advancing will do its best at the prestigious event. Here is a look at what should be expected from them.
Although South Korea finished in third place at FIBA Asia 2013, it is hard to argue that this was not the second-best team in the tournament.
The squad was excellent throughout the qualifying rounds, dominating every opponent it faced with the exception of Iran. The only reason it was not able to get redemption in the finals was one great game by host Philippines in the semifinals.
Still, the way this team is built gives the group a decent chance of making a surprise run at the World Cup. There are no star players, but South Korea has about 10 players capable of putting up double digits in any game.
Additionally, the ability of virtually every person in the lineup to hit a shot from the outside makes the team incredibly difficult to defend.
Despite the balance, players like Joo-Sung Kim and Mingoo Kim can take over if needed, which gives the squad confidence late in games.
While a lack of size will hurt the ability to legitimately compete in the tournament, South Korea can surprise people with a trip to the knockout stage at the World Cup.
Not only did the Philippines get a boost from the home crowd every time it played, but the squad was given a relatively easy run in the tournament. Neither of these factors will be available at the World Cup.
The team made it through to the knockout stage despite a poor loss to Chinese Taipei. This was with China, Iran and South Korea all on the other side of the bracket, which made it a lot easier to advance. Jordan was probably the best in the group coming in, but it had a terrible tournament and lost in the quarterfinals.
Jayson Castro had a solid tournament for the Philippines, showcasing his point-guard skills to keep the offense steady at all times. Unfortunately, it is tough to imagine the little man being so successful against higher-quality opponents.
This is also a team that has little experience at the highest levels of international basketball. It has not qualified for the World Cup since 1978, when it was also the host nation, although the results were not great in that tournament either.
It is impressive to make it this far; it is just hard to imagine more than a win or two as the team gets eliminated in the group stage.
While China might have been the more highly rated team coming into the tournament, Iran proved without a doubt that it is now the best in Asia.
Iran started things off with a 90-point win over Malaysia and hardly slowed down for the rest of the tournament, winning every single game it played by double digits.
Hamed Haddadi was easily the most impressive during the championship, averaging 18.8 points and 10 rebounds per game to win MVP, according to Scott Schroeder of NBC Sports. He was a monster in the low post on both ends of the court and showed that he can be a huge factor at the World Cup as well.
The frontcourt is usually what separates teams at the international level, and Iran has one of the best out there with Haddadi and Oshin Sahakian. This will enable Iran to compete with the big boys and become legitimate medal contenders.
Anything less than a trip to the quarterfinals will be a disappointment, but grabbing a bronze medal is well within reach for this squad on the rise.
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