FAVOURITES Australia and New Zealand eased into the tournament with comfortable victories, while there were also wins for Chinese Taipei and hosts Lebanon on day one of the FIBA Asia Cup.
Australia’s 84-68 win over Japan in Group D, and New Zealand’s 70-49 triumph against Kazakhstan in Group C were routine, but the more intriguing matches featured some of the less-fancied nations.
Chinese Taipei beat Hong Kong 77-62 in Group D, despite trailing by nine points in the second quarter – and a stellar performance of 19 points, 12 rebounds and five assists from Hong Kong centre Duncan Reid.
For Chinese Taipei, denied the services of Quincy Davis at this tournament, the victory was an ideal start to a tournament where qualifying for the knockout phase would be viewed in many quarters as a success.
Chou Po-Hsun dropped 16 points and 13 rebounds for the victors, while Chou Yi-Hsiang contributed 22 points – 18 in the second half alone – as Chinese Taipei overcame a 35-30 half-time deficit.
A key game in Group C saw hosts Lebanon thrill a vociferous home crowd by beating South Korea 72-66 in a game that could go a long way to deciding who finishes second behind New Zealand in the group.
Wael Arakji had a game-leading 22 points for the hosts, for whom Bassel Bawji claimed 12 boards.
Korea trailed 40-31 at the half, and at one stage were 14 points adrift, before a strong final quarter cut the deficit, with Oh Se-keun finishing with 16 points and seven rebounds.
Tournament debutants New Zealand opened the championship with a routine victory against Kazakhstan, in which Derone Raukawa had 17 points and six rebounds.
Oceanic neighbours Australia were also commanding winners, seeing off Japan with five different players scoring 10 points or more.
Japan playmaker Yuki Togashi scored 12 points and went five-for-10 from the field but his team were outgunned by the Boomers in the second and third quarters.
Day one by numbers
Top points scorers: 22 – Chou Yi-Hsiang (Chinese Taipei), Wael Arakji (Lebanon), 19 – Duncan Reid (Hong Kong), 17 – Derone Raukawa (New Zealand), 16 – Chou Po-Hsun (Chinese Taipei), Lim Dong-seop (South Korea), Oh Se-keun (South Korea), Fadi El Khatib (Lebanon), Ali Haidar (Lebanon).
Top rebounders: 13 – Chou Po-Hsun (Chinese Taipei), Tenketsu Harimoto (Japan), 12 – Matthew Hodgson (Australia), Duncan Reid (Hong Kong), Bassel Bawji (Lebanon).
Most assists: 5 – Jason Cadee (Australia), Daniel Kickert (Australia), Duncan Reid (Hong Kong).
Best team field-goal percentage: 50.8 – Australia
Worst team field-goal percentage: 34.5 – Japan
Biggest margin of victory: New Zealand 70 Kazakhstan 49 (21 points)
Day two action (Wednesday, August 9)
Group A: Iran v India, Jordan v Syria; Group B: China v Philippines, Iraq v Qatar.