SERBIAN coach Rajko Toroman was the least surprised with China’s loss to Chinese Taipei in the quarterfinal round of the Fiba-Asia Championship, saying he felt some of the Chinese players were less enthusiastic than others.
The mighty defending champion China bowed out of the title race with a 78-96 loss to Chinese Taipei on Friday at the MOA Arena in a reversal that is expected to be major news both on the mainland and the tiny island nation it claims as its own.
The Chinese are now left to try and salvage fifth place, a great humiliation for a nation that has dominated Asian basketball since the Philippines' fall from grace in the seventies.
But Toroman, a veteran in the Asian basketball scene, said China has not been playing well since the start of the 10-day tournament.
“It’s not a big surprise,” Toroman told Spin.ph when asked about his assessment of the game. “From the beginning, they didn’t play good although they had blowout wins in the second round.”
Reports from China said the players didn’t like how Panagiotis Giannakis ran the team’s preparations for the Fiba-Asia Championship.
Toroman, who also mentored Iran in its climb to the 2008 Olympics, said that the rapport between Giannakis and the players didn’t show.
“You can see from the players, there are some who played like they were being pushed to play. They were not enthusiastic, they weren’t motivated,” said Toroman.
But the former Gilas Pilipinas coach said Chinese-Taipei should still be credited with the stunning victory, noting their 60 percent clip from the field.
“They shot very well. They have four outside players with (Tien Lei) who can spread the floor. They deserve to be in the semifinals. They were looking much better than China,” said Toroman.
Chinese Taipei now faces Iran in the semifinals.