China beat Philippines in the final of 2015 FIBA Asia Championships to emerge as the top Asian nation. The victory also meant that China will go to Rio 2016 without any more qualification hurdles. The 28th edition of the 16-nation biennial tournament came to end on Saturday in the Chinese city of Changsha-Hunan with entire Asian rankings decided. Philippines, Iran and Japan finished second, third and fourth respectively and they will have one more chance for Olympic berth, when they participate in the 2016 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament for men. India, who reached the quarterfinals, lost to China in the knock-out phase and once again to Korea in the 5th to 8th place Semifinals. India had their last match against Qatar on Saturday for the 7th-8th places and they lost that as well to finish eighth in the competition.
Eventual champion China completed their unbeaten run in the 2015 FIBA Asia Championships concluding it with a 78-67 final victory over the spirited Philippines team. Inarguably, China has been the best basketball nation in Asia having won the title 16 times in 28 appearances since the inaugural edition at Manila in 1960. Philippines have taken the title 5 times, Iran 3 Times and Japan and Korea twice each. India’s best finish in the championship’s history has been fourth at the 1975 edition at Bangkok. China’s victory has also ensured them a place in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
In Saturday’s final, the Filipinos made the first move with Jayson William taking his side into the lead but that was the only time the Gilas would be ahead. The forceful Chinese bounced back and wrested control with a 5-point lead. They kept enhancing that lead to end the first quarter at 23-19. The Chinese continued the momentum in the second quarter despite Philippines once cutting the deficit down to 21-25. However, valiant efforts from China’s 19-year old Zhao Qi ensured that the second quarterfinal went China’s way with a score-line of 46-35.
In the third quarter, China began with a bang and raced to a 57-44 lead. Philippines did their best to cut down the gap but they could only manage to bring it within 10 points as the quarter ended with China leading 60-50. In the last quarter, China began by scoring 5 quick points and with brilliant play from Zhou Qi and Yi Jianlian, China inched close to the gold medal. Philippines made a last-gasp attempt, but their hopes of upstaging the Chinese could not have been fulfilled. When the final buzzer went off, China had beaten Philippines 78-67 to win the Asia FIBA championship for the 16th time. With that win, China also sealed their place in the men’s basketball event of next year’s Rio Olympic Games.
In the Bronze medal match, Iran fended off a spirited challenge from Japan to take the third place with a keenly fought 68-63 win. Iran dominated the initial moments by scoring the game’s 18 out of the first 21 points but Japan battled back and cut the deficit to 31-29 at half-time. Then Japan secured the lead in the third quarter. The Japanese looked like upsetting the Iranians as they led 51-49 with 8½ minutes left in the match. However, the Iranians bounced back to lead by 12 points before Japan once again reduced the gap towards the end as Iran took the bronze with a 68-63 victory.
The euphoria of India reaching the quarterfinal subsided after they lost to China by a whopping margin of 58-104. For the 5th place finish, they met Korea and suffered another humiliating defeat to go down at 72-117. Finally India’s last match in the competition was against Qatar and victory could have given them 7th place in the tournament. But Qatar was the better side on the day as they beat India 84-58 to take the seventh spot ahead of India’s eighth.