CHINA completed a sweep of Japan in their two-game series to start the 2023 Fiba World Cup Asian qualifiers after a 106-73 win on Sunday at Xebio Arena in Sendai.
The Chinese side hardly missed Zhou Qi, who suffered a sprained ankle the day prior, with Zhao Rui picking up the cudgels and dropping six treys to lead his side with 27 points, five assists, four rebounds, and four steals.
Guo Ailun impressed in his national team return with 14 points and two assists, while Zhang Zhenlin came off the bench and added 17 points and four rebounds in a fitting followup to the Chinese's 79-63 in the opening game.
Team Dragon starts strong
China also drew contributions from Xu Jie, who had 13 points on 3-of-6 sniping from beyond the arc, and Hu Jinqiu, who went a perfect 6-of-6 from the field for his 12 points and six boards, in this 33-point rout.
Team Dragon were quick to jump out of the gates, building an early 27-7 advantage as they bamboozled the Akatsuki Five in all fronts and forced them to turn the ball over 18 times, easily turning those into 29 fastbreak points.
China extended the lead to as big as 41, 106-65, after a pair of Zhang freethrows with 1:25 left to play.
With these pair of wins, China seized early leadership in Group B of the Asian qualifiers putting it in a prime position to advance to the second round.
Both teams will now turn their attention to their other foes, with games against Australia and Chinese Taipei up next come the February 2022 window.
Ryo Terashima paced Japan with 16 points and three assists, while naturalized center Luke Evans had 15 points and 10 rebounds in the absence of its NBA players Rui Hachimura and Yuta Watanabe.
Yudai Nishida and Ryuichi Kishimoto also had 10 apiece for the Akatsuki Five, who are already assured of a spot in the global hoops tilt in two years' time due to it serving as one of the hosts.
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