MANILA, Philippines-Elie Okobo scored 13 points and Nando De Colo added 12 as France sent Iran’s Olympic dream to a shattering end after tallying a runaway 82-55 victory in the 2023 FIBA World Cup at the Indonesia Arena in Jakarta.
The Iranians bowed out of contention for the next year’s Paris Olympics, joining Gilas Pilipinas and Jordan on the beeline for the exits, all of them dropping their games at the start of the classification round on Thursday night.
Together with Gilas and Jordan, Iran plummeted to its fourth consecutive defeat in as many outings.
Behnam Yakhchali and Meisam Mirzael led the way with 11 points apiece for the Iranians, who missed Hamed Haddadi due to an ankle sprain against defending champion Spain on Wednesday night.
Japan is ahead of the footrace to clinch that lone Asian spot to Paris after chalking up its second win at the expense of Venezuela in Group O held in Okinawa, Japan.
China’s 83-76 breakthrough triumph over Angola in Group M at Araneta Coliseum and Lebanon’s 94-84 win against Ivory Coast in Group P gave them a mathematical chance of still making it to Paris.
A victory by Japan over Cape Verde on Saturday will extinguish any hopes that China and Lebanon had in punching a ticket to the Olympics.
With Asia Cup MVP Wael Arakji on the bench resting a hurting ankle, Amir Saoud rose to the occasion with 29 points and eight assists for the Lebanese.
Omari Spellman likewise came out with his finest performance after four outings, sinking a crucial three atop the arc with 53 seconds remaining to finish with 29 points.
Spellman’s triple hit the front end of the rim and bounced off the glass before trickling in, giving Lebanon an 89-84 cushion that eventually broke the resolve of the Ivorians.
Jean Philippe Dally fired 21 points and Patrick Tape added 15 for the Fiba Africa runners-up, who opened their stint with a setback in the stage where the 17th to 32nd rankings will be determined.
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