Iran books ticket to 2008 Olympics

TOKUSHIMA (Kyodo) Iran defeated Lebanon 74-69 in the final of the men’s FIBA Asia Championship on Sunday to book a ticket to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. It is the first time ever Iran will make an Olympic appearance after winning its first title. Runnerup Lebanon and third-place finisher South Korea will have another shot to gain a berth to the Summer Games in the final Olympic qualifier in June next year. Host Japan, which missed out on an Olympic spot after failing to reach the semifinals, came eighth after an 86-82 loss to Qatar the same day. It was Japan’s worst result in the history of the tournament after a seventh-place finish in 1993. Japan took a 38-34 lead at halftime, only to lose its rhythm in the fourth quarter when J.R. Sakuragi fouled out.