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Iran Outlasts Taiwan, Gets to Quarterfinals

 Matin Aghajanpour earned 39 points to carry Iran’s cause in the pivotal encounter. Matin Aghajanpour earned 39 points to carry Iran’s cause in the pivotal encounter.

Iran recovered from a sluggish start to stop a determined Taiwan 93-84 and top Group C on Wednesday at the FIBA U16 Asia Championship in Foshan, China.

According to the FIBA website, Matin Aghajanpour exploded for a jaw-dropping 39 points to carry Iran’s cause in the pivotal encounter. He shot 15-of-28 from the field, including hitting thrice from deep. He also grabbed 10 rebounds and had three steals. His point total is tied for third-highest in the competition’s history.

Iran as the West Asia Basketball Association champion actually trailed early on as Taiwan was the faster team from the tip. The Iranians fell behind 28-21 after one quarter before they found their bearings and outscored their foes 29-19 in the second period. At the half, Iran was up 50-47.

The nip-and-tuck affair continued in the second half, which saw a total of six lead changes between the two sides. Aghajanpour dueled with Taiwan’s Chen Chiang-Shuang, who also scored a ton, finishing with 20 points. In the end, however, Iran proved to be more poised, making the bigger plays down the stretch to preserve victory.

Aghajanpour received able support from Mohammad-Sina Vahedi, who tallied 18 points, while big man Seyed Alireza Mortazavi added 12 points and 9 rebounds. On the other end, Taiwan drew 18 points from Chen Kuan-Chung.

The win propels Iran straight into the quarterfinals, while Taiwan has to play in the playoffs for another shot at getting a quarterfinals berth.

Under the management of Serbia’s renowned coach Nenad Trunić, Iranian players hammered Macau 148-45 in their first match of the tournament on Monday. Aghajanpour was the top performer of his side and the top scorer of the match too, scoring 27 points.

Foshan is hosting the fifth edition of the biennial games, April 2-8.

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