South Korea Wins Asian Games Gold in Men’s Basketball


Odds were stacked against Team Korea, but the home team erased a five-point deficit with just over a minute remaining and toppled Iran for a 79-77 win, giving South Korea its first Asiad gold in men’s basketball tournament in 12 years.

Considered a basketball powerhouse in Asia, Iran was heavily favored to win the gold at the Asian Games in Incheon this year after winning its second straight Asian basketball title (FIBA Asia Cup) in July. Led by its Slovenian head coach Memi Becirovic, Iran’s offense was spearheaded by Hamed Haddadi, who formerly played for the Memphis Grizzlies and the Phoenix Suns of the NBA, and Nikkah Bahrami, who’s currently considered as one of Asia’s finest perimeter players.

Korea’s swarming defense down low held the 7-foot-2 Haddadi to just 14 points and six rebounds for the game as its 6-foot-9 center Kim Jong-kyu and 6-foot-7 forward Oh Se-keun double teamed the big man for majority of the game and even held him scoreless in the third quarter. Bahrami got the better of Korea’s defense and scored 30 points, including 17 of Iran’s 24 points in the second quarter, but the Koreans still prevailed by taking advantage of Iran’s mistakes down the stretch.

Trailing Iran’s 75-70 lead at the 1:15 mark, guard Yang Dong-geun hit a three pointer to cut into the deficit. Yang’s three was followed by Kim Jong-kyu’s game-tying layup, which also drew a foul with 36 seconds remaining. Kim, who calmly converted the foul shot, gave Korea the lead for good.

“We’ve played exhibitions against teams in Europe and gained experienced by playing at international tournaments,” said Korea’s 35-year-old veteran forward Kim Joo-sung. “By winning the Asian Games now, we showed that Korean basketball has been alive.”

Photo via Naver