CHINA bounced back strong after an opening-day loss to South Korea with a 113-22 demolition of woeful Malaysia on Friday in the 27th Fiba-Asia men’s championship preliminaries at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Star forward Yi Jian Lian did not play against the Malaysians to rest his hamstring and groin pull, but the 6’11” NBA veteran was hardly needed against a Southeast Asian team that plays more like boys against men.
The Asian powerhouse’s two giant Wangs - Zhizhi and Zhelin - asserted their presence inside the shaded lane with easy layups, putbacks and tip-ins as the Chinese raced to a 31-2 first quarter lead and never looked back.
More importantly, the win prepared the defending champion China mentally and physically for the match against former two-time Asian champion Iran, which boasts of 7-2 center Hamed Haddadi.
Haddadi, who played for the Phoenix Suns this past NBA season, will be the center of attention on Saturday when the Iranians and the Chinese slug it out in a battle between two Asian basketball giants.
China national coach Panagiotis Giannakis said they have the same approach regardless of whether they were facing a weak or strong team.
“We want to put in a team with a strong mentality because any pressure or any game is important. If we think we are just playing a weak team, then we’ll lose something,” said the legendary Greek coach.
The game was a huge bounce-back win for China, which dropped a shocking 59-63 decision to bitter rival South Korea in Thursday’s opener.
Giannakis said as much as everyone’s eyes will be on China’s much-awaited 5:45 p.m. match up with Iran, they will consider it as just another game they need to win.
“For me, it’s just another game. We want to play with good teams,” said the Chinese national coach nicknamed 'The Dragon.'
“I think if we play strong teams, you improve your game and we have in our mind to play a good game, control our situation and have a clear understanding that the tournament is long. That’s the point for me,” he added.
China 113 - Wang Zhelin 21, Wang Zhizhi 17, Zhu Fangyu 16, Guo Ailun 16, Zhuo Peng 9, Zhang B0 8, Li Xiaoxu 8, Li Xiaoyu 7, Sun Yue 6, Wang Shipeng 5, Cheng Jianhua 0
Malaysia 22 - Ooi Ban Sin 9, Foong Min Joe 4, Gan Hon Hoong 3, Wong Chin Yong 2, Kuek Tian Yuan 2, Tong Wen Keong 2, Mak Long Seng 0, Ng Sing Tee 0, Soo Eng Heng 0