Iran, officially called the Islamic Republic of Iran, yes, Iran, surprised many observers this past weekend by winning the 2007 FIBA Asian Basketball Championship in Tokushima, Japan. Iran doused a red-hot Lebanon 74-69 to earn an automatic invite to Beijing as Asian champs. Normally China would get that, but since it is already in as hosts, the Chinese sent a B-team of sorts consisting of players from the CBA to Tokushima. Beijing will be Iran's debut in Olympic basketball, and could hopefully be the coming out party for Jaber Rouzbahani, who I know a lot of pro scouts will look at. Is this compared for Iranians with them clinching a 1998 World Cup berth a decade ago at the Nightmare at the MCG versus the Socceroos? Actually, let's not sleep on the Iranians: they finished 3rd at the Asian Games in Doha, Qatar.

Lebanon will join South Korea, who defeated Kazakhstan 80-76 for bronze, for an Olympic Qualification Tournament as the two Asian teams. I feel a little bad for Japan the hosts. They hosted last year's World Basketball Championship and the Asiabasket with the high hopes of improving their international standing en route to Olympic qualification to Beijing. But it went all for naught; they're too undersized, even with JR Henderson and selecting what group to be in (and an easy one at that), to make an impact. Japan hasn't been in men's Olympic basketball since 1976. They finished a very disappointing 8th.

Final standings:
1. Iran
2. Lebanon
3. South Korea
4. Kazakhstan
5. Jordan
6. Chinese Taipei (Taiwan)
7. Qatar
8. Japan
9. The Philippines
10.China
11.Syria
12.Indonesia
13.Hong Kong
14.Kuwait
15.India
16.United Arab Emirates

More details on that next post.

Over on the women's side, hosts South Korea won the Asian Championship in Incheon, South Korea a couple of months ago with a win over China 79-73. Former Storm Jung Sun-Min led the way. Japan, by being third, goes into its own wildcard Olympic tourney next year.

Tomorrow, the Eurobasket Qualifier will take place. Top three finishers in each of their respective groups go into a new group of three. The winner of that newly-formed group eventually gets the no-prize of being in Eurobasket 2007 Group A with powers Russia, Greece, and Serbia in Spain--the Group of Death.

Group A
Bulgaria
Hungary
Bosnia-Herzegovina

Group B
Estonia
Macedonia
Sweden

Group C
Ukraine
Belgium
Israel
Denmark

My pick will be Israel out of that.

Eurobasket nations that did not take part in this:
Austria
Albania
Great Britian
Switzerland
Norway
Finland
Montenegro
Cyprus
Malta
Gibraltar
San Marino
Ireland
The Netherlands
Slovakia
Romania
Faroe Islands
Azerbaijian
Armenia
Georgia
Moldova
Luxembourg
Liechtenstein
Monaco
Andorra

Back later with more details...