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S. Korea beats Qatar to reach semifinals at Asian basketball championship

SEOUL, Aug. 10 (Yonhap) -- South Korea defeated Qatar 79-52 on Friday to reach the semifinals at the Asian men's basketball championship in the Philippines.

At the Mall of Asia Arena, forward Cho Sung-min scored a game-high 16 points and forward Lee Seung-jun added 12 points in the resounding South Korean victory. In the semifinals, South Korea will face the host Philippines at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday local time, and at 9:30 p.m. Korean time.

South Korea must finish in the top three in Asia to qualify for its first FIBA Basketball World Cup in 16 years.

Spain will host the world championship next year.

If South Korea falls to the Philippines, it will be relegated to a third-place match against the loser from the other semifinal game between Iran and Taiwan.

Taiwan stunned China 96-78, while Iran routed Jordan 94-50 in their quarterfinals matches.

South Korea built a 24-14 lead after the opening quarter, and led by as much as 29-17 early in the second quarter. Qatar dropped in seven unanswered points to cut the deficit to 29-24, but South Korea closed out the first half with a 40-28 lead thanks to consecutive baskets by Kim Joo-sung and Kim Jong-kyu.

Midway through the third quarter, Qatar's forward Jarvis Hayes, a former first-round pick in the NBA and the tournament's leading scorer, left the game with an ankle injury, all but dashing hopes of a comeback for the Middle East country.

Hayes and Erfan Ali Saeed each had 10 points in their losing cause. Qatar shot just 29.1 percent from the field, compared to 44.9 percent by South Korea.