Fri, 26 Aug 1994

S. Korea routs Iran in Independence Cup opener

JAKARTA (JP): South Korea, playing an aggressive but sometimes sloppy game, opened the fifth Independence Cup basketball tourney with a 71-53 victory against a hesitant Iran here yesterday.

South Korea's triumph came as a mild upset as the pundits had previously bet on Iran which has a reputation of being one of Asia's basketball powerhouses.

Iran actually opened with a solid offense until about halfway through the first half.

Afterwards, however, the Iranians played very poorly and failed to manifest any confidence against the Koreans who were more persistent in getting to loose balls and rebounds.

The Koreans, moreover, kept up their fastbreaks and aggressive penetrations which created mayhem in the entire Iranian defense.

Korean forwards Lee Sang Bum, Hur Ki Young and Lee Byung Rul played heads-up ball throughout the game, passing the ball around to loosen up the defense before taking it to the hole.

Mahmood Poorsharafi, Iran's head coach, was obviously upset by the poor display of his boys, but his strategic maneuvering did little to bring his team back.

Despite Poosharafi's constant yelling, the Iranians could not do much against the Koreans, who put an exclamation point on their fine performance with a basket at the final buzzer.


The audience - consisting of about 800 teenagers who were mostly still wearing their high-school uniforms - seemed to be somewhat indifferent to the game as some of them chose to cheer at the Junior National Team and Jakarta Selection players who were sitting courtside.

The Junior National Team is here to replace the West Java team which withdrew from the tournament at the last minute.

Sri Sudono Soemarto, the Secretary General of the Indonesian Basketball Association (Perbasi), had said that West Java's withdrawal caused some confusion for the organizing committee of the event.

Some fans at the game yesterday also cheered African-American player Kirkland Ivory who has been hired by the local Aspac club. Ivory is also a member of the Jakarta Selection team.

The Russian team, the tourney's favorite and currently number two in world basketball, faced the Philippines late last night.

The Russians are scheduled to meet Jakarta Selection on Saturday night. (hdj)