9/25/2011

The underdog will have its day

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China's Ding Jinhui (L) tries to work his way free of South Korea's Moon Tae-jong during China's semifinal victory on Saturday night. China defeated South Korea 56-43 and advanced into the final on Sunday. The host will play Jordan.

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Players of Jordan celebrate with their national flag after their semifinal victory over the Philippines at the 2011 FIBA Asia Men's Basketball Championship in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei province, Sept 24, 2011. Jordan won the match by 75-61.


WUHAN, Hubei - The individual members of Jordan's basketball team are pretty average.

The underdog will have its day

China's Sun Yue (L) goes for a basket against a South Korean player during China's semifinal victory at the 2011 FIBA Asia Men's Basketball Championship in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei province, Sept 24, 2011. [Photo by Cui Meng/chinadaily.com.cn]
As a team, though? Maybe the best in Asia.

Jordan defeated the Philippines, 75-61, on Saturday at the 26th FIBA Asia Championship, proving its quarterfinal victory over two-time defending champion Iran was no fluke.

"Our key for advancing to the final was to put aside our personal goals. As a team we are dangerous, as a group of individuals, we are not," said Jordan head coach Thomas Baldwin.

"It feels very much like a dream coming true. But it is real. We really do want to win the final, and we are really not satisfied with where we are. I want it (the title) so much."

After struggling to establish any tempo in the first half, Jordan regained its defensive intensity and offensive discipline in the third quarter to upset the Filipinos and move within one win of its first Olympic appearance.

Jordan sharp shooter Rasheim Wright and swingman Zaid Abbas scored a combined 38 points to lead the offense, while Islam Abbaas' defense held Marcus Douthit, the tournament's top scorer, to nine points in the first half.

Playmaker Osama Daghles knocked down two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to seal the game.

Facing China, which thrashed Jordan by 33 points in the group stage, in the final, Wright said he is keen to exact revenge from the host.

The underdog will have its day
"For tomorrow, of course, we want revenge. Last time we faced China, I played terrible. I want to beat them tomorrow and play (better)," said the American-Jordanian guard.

Daghles echoed Wright's sentiment, banking on the team's "underdog advantage" to stun the tournament favorite.

"They (China) have much more pressure than us - they're playing at home," he said. "They can't lose like two years ago in Tianjin again. We are excited, motivated and free minded. We have no pressure. That's our advantage," Daghles said.

After an up-and-down struggle during the pool stage, Jordan turned out be a tough-minded, team-oriented squad.

Infused with a big boost of confidence after consecutive crossover victories, the team is making its first final appearance.

"We are already a different team in a short period. We have more confidence and toughness. No matter which team stands in front of us tomorrow, we are gonna hit it hard," Baldwin said.

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China's Sun Yue (L) goes for a basket against a South Korean player during China's semifinal victory at the 2011 FIBA Asia Men's Basketball Championship in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei province, Sept 24, 2011.

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Chinese players celebrate their victory over South Korea during their semifinal games at the 2011 FIBA Asia Men's Basketball Championship in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei province, Sept 24, 2011.

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China's Yi Jianlian (L) tries to work his way free of a South Korean player during China's semifinal victory at the 2011 FIBA Asia Men's Basketball Championship in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei province, Sept 24, 2011.

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China's Yi Li (L) goes for a basket against a South Korean player during China's semifinal victory at the 2011 FIBA Asia Men's Basketball Championship in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei province, Sept 24, 2011.

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China's Wang Zhizhi (R) gestures during China's semifinal victory over South Korea at the 2011 FIBA Asia Men's Basketball Championship in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei province, Sept 24, 2011.

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China's head coach Robert Donewald Jr reacts during China's semifinal victory over South Korea at the 2011 FIBA Asia Men's Basketball Championship in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei province, Sept 24, 2011.

(China Daily)

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September 25, 2011 at 2:57 PM