CHINA stayed the only unbeaten team in Group A at the end of the first window of the Fiba World Cup qualifiers after beating Korea, 92-81, and leaving the Korean crowd in Goyang Gymnasium in silence on Sunday.
The visiting Chinese squad got in a tight battle early, trailing by two after one quarter before taking a 4-point lead at the break, 44-40. But Ding Yanyuhang, the Chinese Basketball Association MVP who played for the Dallas Mavericks in the 2017 NBA Summer League, sparked an 8-0 blitz to start the third quarter and capped a 24-11 run to build China’s lead to as high as 17 near the end of the period.
The Koreans gave one final push to cut the lead down to eight, 87-79, with 1:53 to go. But Ding came to China’s rescue with a dagger of a layup on the next play and added another free throw to push the advantage back up to 11 with only 24 seconds left.
Ding finished with a game-high 30 points, including four triples, for China. Sun Minghui chipped in 21 while big man Wang Zhelin contributed 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Heo Hoon had 16 points to lead Korea, who followed up a stunning win over New Zealand with a dud against China. Lee JungHyun added 14 markers.
In the other Group A match, New Zealand got its first win with an easy 133-74 victory over Hong Kong.
Korea looks to bounce back against Hong Kong while China and New Zealand clash when the second window of the qualifying tournament opens on February 23 next year.