Sports / Basketball

Narrow win gets monkey off China's back

By Sun Xiaochen in Incheon, South Korea ( Updated: 2014-09-25 17:40

China's men's basketball team began its Asian Games campaign seeking redemption for a disappointing outcome at the 2013 Asian Championships.

However, a one-point group victory over Chinese Taipei on Thursday suggests the quest to return to Asian dominance won't be all smooth sailing.

"This game we played like a final. Despite the minor edge, this kind of tough and close fight will be good for our young players to grow quickly and we need experiences like this game," China's head coach Gong Luming said after seeing his team beat Chinese Taipei, 59-58, in the team's second group match.

"We have to face tougher opponents in the next stage. The competition will be fiercer and results will be more unpredictable. Anyway, this young team needs experience to grow".

Young center Wang Zhelin and veteran forward Zhou Peng each scored a game-high 12 points and the victory saw China take its revenge after losing to the same rival three consecutive times in the space of a year, including the humiliating defeat at last year's Asian Championship, where it finished fifth, its worst result at the tournament since 1975.

A missed follow-up shot by Tseng Wen Ting, which could have won the game for Chinese Taipei in the final seconds of regular time almost stunned China for a fourth time in a row.

"Most of our players are so young without big-time experience. They just wanted to win so much. Our offense didn't run well enough and we should've have done it in a better way," said Gong.

Finishing atop Group C will likely see China meet its main rival Iran at the quarterfinal stage, and the experience it gained with victory over Iran in the Asian Cup in July has boosted confidence.

"I have played against Hamed Haddadi, Iran's former NBA center, (at the Asian Cup). He has more experience than me but I think I will outperform him with my advantage in conditioning and strength," said Zhou Qi, China's 18-year-old center.

Most Popular
What's Hot