Holders China ousted of Asian Basketball Championships
Updated: 2013-08-10 15:05
MANILA - China's defending champion was snapped here on Friday after the title holders lost 96-78 to Chinese Taipei at the quarterfinals of the Asian men's basketball championships.
It has been the "de facto" worst result in 38 years for China since they took part in the event for the first time in 1975. In 2007, China sent a reserve team to the Asian Championship and finished the 10th.
With the humiliating defeat, the former Asian leaders missed their chance of earning a direct berth to the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain, and will have to vie for a wild card with four in stake.
Former NBA center Yi Jianlian, who just made his return on Wednesday after having been sidelined in four previous matches, started for China and opened scoring on Friday night, as his team led the score board 50-40 by the halftime.
Chinese Taipei, however, came back to begin the second half with a 8-0 run before they turned over the table with a three-pointer from Tien Lei and held on to lead by nine points into the final quarter, 71-62.
Chinese Taipei gained 31 points in the sole third quarter, against China's poor 12, 10 from Yi and 2 from veteran Wang Zhizhi.
In the fourth and final quarter, the Taipei side enlarged their lead by 10 after Quincy Davis III shot in a freethrow from the field and forced a foul, 74-64.
China once cut the deficit by 7 after Wang Shipeng fouled on, made in his first freethrow and missed the second to let Yi lay up with a second chance points.
But Chinese Taipei, who had never won over China before Friday, retaliated with freethrows to again lead by double digit and never looked back.
Davis have a game-high score of 26 points, adding to 10 rebounds and 3 blocks, while Tsai Wen-Cheng followed with 21 points and 7 rebounds, as five players of Chinese Taipei claimed a double-digit score.
Yi led the holders' statistics with 22 points and 10 rebounds in his 27 minutes on court as a starter, Wang Shipeng had 17 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assistants, Zhu Fangyu gave out 11 and substitution Wang added 10.
China's head coach Panagiotis Giannakis was so disappointed.
"It could have been a more sophisticated game, only if my players had calmed down after going down trailing.
"We played fairly well in the first half, but far from perfect, " he said. "I told them at break that they'd given the opponents too many chances to launch attacks and let them take too much control of rebounds."
"I urged them to get better in defence in the second half. But they only got lost."
"What more disappointed me was that my players didnot fight to the very end. The second half had gone out of control. They knew it, tried to fix it through aimless shooting, but could not change a thing," he added.
The former Greece coach, however, declined to beg pardon from the Chinese fans.
"We won't apologized for our failure," said Giannakis, who took the post with the Chinese team just three months ago.
"I don't have enough time and space to form a squad, and some of my key players are not fit. It's also a difficult time for us.
"I've promised to make them better players in reading basketball and I will make it happen," he emphasized.
Giannakis was not the only one disappointed in the Chinese team.
Former NBA point guard Sun Yue said: "We could have played a better game, definitely."
"What we reacted in difficult time made the situation a hundred times worse," another former NBA center Wang Zhizhi echoed.
On the other hand, Chinese Taipei, who lost injured heavyweight Lee Hsueh-Lin in their last round-robin game, enjoyed a sweet success.
"Today is the best day for us. We spared no efforts and harvested an incredible, fantastic win," coach Hsu Chin-Che said.
"We stayed focus and played smart tonight," commented Tien Lei. "We deserved a victory and it means a lot for us."
Chinese Taipei will next face Iran in the semifinals on Saturday. Their best result from Asian Championship was the runners-up finish in 1963.