CHINA’S defense of its Fiba-Asia crown hit a huge bump right on opening day with a loss to Korea, but its Greek head coach Panagiotis Giannakis believes it is only a hiccup.
Giannakis, who steered Greece to a second-place finish in the 2006 Fiba World Championship, said first-day jitters led to China’s shocking 63-59 loss to Korea.
“We still have a long way to go. I think the team was a bit nervous because it’s the first game and it’s the beginning of the tournament. We missed a lot of lay-ups and easy baskets,” said Giannakis.
On its way to the 2011 title in Wuhan, China defeated Korea in the semifinal round before beating Jordan in the championship match.
It was a different result for China on Thursday as they dropped their first game despite getting 23 points from its star player Yi Jianlian.
Yi, who played for the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks last season, was the lone double-digit scorer for China. He also had 10 boards but made five turnovers.
Still, Giannakis is confident that his team can still regain its focus and form beginning with the game against Malaysia on Friday.
“It’s a long tournament. We may face them again,” Giannakis said, referring to Korea. “We are still focused on the next game. We will be okay.”