AS China tries to pickup the pieces after a shock exit from the 27th Fiba-Asia men’s tournament, national coach Panagiotis Giannakis said young Chinese players can learn a lot from veteran center Wang Zhizhi.
The seven-foot Wang, now 36, turned back the hands of time at least during Saturday’s classification round play against arch-nemesis Jordan, firing 12 of his team’s last 19 points to lead China to a close 79-76 win.
The victory kept the Chinese in the hunt for a fifth place finish on Sunday where they will play the winner of the other consolation play featuring Kazakhstan and Qatar in what Wang had conceded would be his last stint in the Asian championships for China.
Giannakis said given the frustrating quarterfinal loss the Chinese suffered on Friday against Chinese-Taipei, young players should take the cue from Wang, whose work ethic and attitude on the court are unquestionable.
“Players can learn good basketball from him during the tournament and during his career,” explained the 55-year-old Greek coach, who will most likely be fired at the end of the tournament.
“You have to improve on your weaknesses, be smart and try to play. He’s a player whom we can learn a lot of lessons from,” he added.
Wang, who has helped China win two Asian gold medals in 1999 and 2011 as well as three championships in the Asian Games in 1998, 2006 and 2010, scored a personal tournament-best 33 points on a near-perfect 12-of-13 shooting.
He played like the Wang of old, shooting semi-hooks from the post, taking medium-range jump shots and scoring on putbacks.
“I think he’s (Wang) a great player. He’s got good skills and everybody can read how he plays like his footwork during the game,” Giannakis said about the NBA veteran.
Giannakis also pointed out that China’s downfall was its own doing because of the team's failure to commit to solid defense all tournament long.
“If they try to think like that (willingness to learn), they can sure improve. That when they make mistake, ran back fast first on defense when their teammates make mistake, they support them first, if they do that, they will succeed for sure,” said the veteran international coach nicknamed the “Dragon” back home.