China qualifies for Rio Olympics with Asian Championship title

xinhuanet.com 05-Oct-2015

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Players of China celebrate their victory over taking the title of the 2015 FIBA Asian Championship in Changsha, capital of central China's Hunan Province, Oct. 3, 2015. (Xinhua)

CHANGSHA, China, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) -- China clinched the title of the 2015 FIBA Asian Championship after beating the 78-67 in the men's basketball final, ending their four-year Asian champion drought.

It was the 16th Asian title for the basketball giant, who has taken part in 21 Asian Championships since 1975, and the title guaranteed China a berth in the men's basketball tournament of the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The Philippines finished as runner-up while defending champion placed third at the highest-level competition in Asian basketball world.

China, who won its last Asian title in 2011, made full use of their size on home court. They beat their opponents 46-28 on rebounds, together with five blocks.

Chinese power forward Yi Jianlian finished with 11 points and 15 rebounds, and was named MVP of the tournament. Guo Ailun got the team-best 17 points, and 19-year-old rising star Zhou Qi took home 16 points and 11 rebounds.

Andray Blatche had 17 points for the Philippines, but none of other Filipino players got double digits.

"We are a young team, and we are proud to get the chance to get into the Rio Olympics," said MVP Yi.

"We are clearly aware of our goods and bads, so we put the focus on the defensive side."

"We are welcoming a new era. Not the best, nor the worst, but definitely the most hopeful era."

The visitors started the game with a 5-0 burst, and kept the advantage to 15-10 before China responded with a 7-0 spurt to overtake the lead. Yi and Zhou kept attacking the basket, to force the Philippine players to do nothing but making fouls. The host team finished the first quarter 23-19 and never looked back again.

The second quarter evolved into a physical battle inside the arc. Then the Chinese shooters unleashed their weapons as Zhao Jiwei, Li Gen and Zhai Xiaochuan buried a series of three pointers to help China extend the lead to as many as 12 points.

After the half break, the Filipinos resorted to zone defense and cut the deficit to eight points. However, Li Gen stood out and kept scoring beyond the arc, helping China to lead 60-44.

The final quarter saw a rejuvenated Blatche, but his solo fight wasn't enough to keep the Philippines close, and the Chinese cagers kept their double digit lead with ease during the final minutes.

"I'm happy that we can get the title," said Chinese head coach Gong Luming, who once guided China to get into the last eight in 1996 Olympics. "We don't have much experience, but we progressed a lot in the last two years."