A dramatic fourth quarter comeback saw Kuwait defeat the UAE 65-61 in the 11-12th play-off at the Fiba Asia Championships for Men yesterday. The UAE had led their GCC rivals for most of the game, up 17-15 at the end of the first quarter, 28-27 at half-time and 51-43 at the end of the third. But after chasing shadows for most of the match, Kuwait - 13 points behind with nine minutes to go - suddenly found their range and rallied in the final quarter.
Fourteen of top-scoring Mohammed Ashkanani's 20 points came in the second half as the lead changed hands with only 1min 30secs left on the clock. A shell-shocked UAE, looking to force the game into over-time, upped the tempo. However, Ibrahim Alsari missed two crucial free throws and a two-pointer in a frantic final minute and the game was lost, the UAE settling for 12th place overall. A tournament record of one win and six losses still sees the UAE register a four position improvement on their 2007 Fiba Asia Championship finish, while Kuwait's 11th place sees them climb three places in two years.
Younis Ibrahim was the highest scorer for the UAE with 15 points, while Emirati Talal Al Nuaimi, heavily marked throughout, weighed in with 12. The defending champions Iran will meet hosts China in today's final. The Iranians remained unbeaten in eight games with a 77-75 victory over Jordanyesterday, Samad Nikkhah top-scoring with 23 points. China later followed suit with a nervous 72-68 win over Lebanon on the back of 20 points from former NBA centre Wang Zhizhi and 18 from New Jersey Nets forward Yi Jianlian. The top three teams qualify for next year's world championship in Turkey.