Changchun (China), June 9 (IANS) Chinese men’s basketball team survived Team American United’s test to win the first friendly between them 81-77 here after three key players, Yi Jianlian, Guo Ailun and Zhou Qi returned.
Li Gen’s two free-throws with 2.2 seconds left sealed the win for China on Wednesday. American United took a 7-0 run in the final minutes to cut the host’s lead from nine points to only two at 79-77. Joey Williamson then stole the ball from Guo Ailun but Mitchell Anderson failed to make the lay-up. With 3.1 seconds to go, Li Gen drew the foul and delivered the two free throws, reports Xinhua.
The Chinese team opened the match with 7-2 but their opponent threw in three three-pointers in the first period to stay in the match. Li Gen led China to a 11-0 run in the beginning of the second quarter. Wang Zhelin, who returned from injury for just a short time, gave the Team American United chances to narrow the gap. China led by five at half time.
“Wang Zhelin still need time to recover fully. And we decided to give him time to find his form,” said Gong Luming, head coach of Chinese team. “He’s far away from his best. And we will give him more time.”
John Taylor scored eight of his match-high 26 points in the third quarter and Team American United tied the score at 63-63 before the final period. Zhou Qi and Guo Ailun led the Chinese team in the final quarter, leading as many as nine points before their opponent clawed back.
“We failed to do well in defence, protecting rebounds and reducing turnovers.” said Gong. “I asked my players to focus on defence but we still were outrebounded 36-48. We also had 20 turnovers. We got advantage in height but we didn’t take good use of it.”
Guo Ailun led China with 16 points while Zhou Qi took 15. Yi Jianlian contributed 11 in less than 11 minutes.
“Zhou Qi played well tonight. But I think he can do better than this.” added Gong.
The two teams will play their next two matches in Henan Province’s Jiaozhuo and Luoyang on Friday and Sunday.