FOLLOWING China’s early exit from the Fiba-Asia knockout quarterfinal stage, national coach Panagiotis Giannakis is left to ponder the future of a team that was once deemed as 'untouchable' in Asia.
Giannakis cited numerous reasons for the team’s underachieving performance this year, from injuries to key players to some of the players’ lack of commitment to defense and rebounding.
“There were opportunities for my team to read the situation so now, we don’t know the future yet. We’re gonna discuss first our situation (with the Chinese sports officials) and see what we want to do and what had happened here (in the tournament),” Giannakis told the media just before leaving the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Chinese were tipped as one of the top two finishers in this year’s Fiba-Asia basketball showpiece, owing to the presence of at least three players with NBA experience led by seven-foot big men Wang Zhizhi and Yi Jian Lian as well as forward/guard Sun Yue.
Yi, however, started the tournament with a hamstring and groin injury, which limited his mobility and forced him to sit out for four straight games during one stretch of the first and second rounds.
Starting point guard Liu Xiaoyu also missed three games after landing hard on his back during a first round match. And against Qatar, which China defeated on Sunday (96-85) to settle for fifth place, Sun twisted his ankle in the first half and didn’t return.
China’s back-to-back Fiba-Asia championship bid eventually ended after being humbled by Chinese Taipei, 78-96, in their quarterfinal duel on Friday night.
“If you want to change something, it comes from difficult situations. I mean, you have to suffer (losses), so it’s like practice, suffer, (stronger) mentality, toughness and just keep working,” explained the Greek coach nicknamed the 'Dragon.'
“We had unlucky moments this tournament because again, another player suffered injury for the team. And the preparation was very difficult. It was a very long preparation with my many of my players going through difficulties but I know, we finished and we become smarter and more experienced,” he added.