Chinese basketballers win final warm-up in homeland before Rio Olympics

Kunshan (China), July 17 (IANS) China held off France 78-73 in the 2016 Sino-European men’s basketball championship here on Sunday, its final warmup match in home country before the Rio Olympic Games starting on August 5.

The game was halted for nearly 10 minutes as French players went back to the locker room after China’s captain Zhou Peng was invovled in a conflict with the opponents. Zhou was later ejected by referees, reports Xinhua.

With 3.24 minutes to go in the third quarter, China led at 54-38. Zhou was called for an offensive foul for elbowing the opponent’s chest, before he and some French players were invovled in a conflict. The visitors once left the court for the locker room to show their dissatisfaction.

About 10 minutes later, French players returned to court through communication and the game resumed. Zhou was ejected for invovling in the conflict, with 12 points in his scoreboard.

Former NBA player Yi Jianlian finished with a game-high 31 points for China, who claimed the tournament title with three wins in a row.

Yi opened the hosts’ scoring account with a three-pointer, before their opponents responded with an 8-2 run. China trailed at 12-15 as the first quarter ran out.

Zhou’s three-point play gave China the upper hand at 24-23, and his one of two free throws and a jumper earned the hosts’ an extended margin.

With a six-point advantage into the halftime, China once built a double-digit lead on Zhou’s layup and Dingyan Yuhang’s two free throws. After Zhou’s ejection, China led by 18 points into the final 12 minutes.

Guo Ailun, who missed last two games due to illness, substituted midway through the last period. France once cut the deficit to seven points, before Yi helped his team maintain the lead with consecutive shots.

China is scheduled to play two warmup matches with the United States national team late in July, its rival in the group phase of the Olympic Games, before heading to Rio for the quadrennial sporting event.

–IANS

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