FOR a decorated international basketball coach like Panagiotis Giannakis, China's loss to Chinese Taipei on Friday night brought tremendous humiliation as he failed to lead a talent-laden team past the Fiba-Asia quarterfinals.
Giannakis, nicknamed the 'Dragon' back in his Greece, his country of origin, said he tried his best to preach defense to his powerhouse team led by NBA veterans Yi Jian Lian, Wang Zhizhi Sun Yue, but to no avail.
“I’m very disappointed. It was a very bad night for us because we know that we came here (tournament) to give our best and play aggressive basketball,” lamented the 54-year-old Giannakis, whose team let an 18-point lead slip away, allowing Chinese-Taipei to knock the crown off China with a 96-78 win at the MOA Arena.
"But in the crucial day, we forgot to play the way we are to play from the first quarter till the end."
The Greek coach pointed out that China’s commitment to defense was half-hearted as seen from Taipei’s unbelievable 60 percent (36-of-60) shooting from the field.
“We showed tonight that defense taught us a lot lessons. We gave Taipei more opportunities shooting 65 percent from the twos (two-point field goal) and 50 percent from threes (three-point zone),” said Giannakis, who is expected to get the boot after the monumental loss.
“If you don’t play defense in your career, you’ll never improve on your level because good defense can give you the confidence to play good basketball and today, nobody played individual defense, nobody played team defense. We didn’t fight,” he rued.
China’s lackadaisical defense allowed Chinese-Taipei to hit 10 three-point shots, along with numerous unmolested lay-ups during the second half when it turned a double-digit deficit into a 71-62 lead heading into the final period.
Giannakis was hired by China’s sports officials in the hope of extending the country’s reign in the Asian region as well as spark a new wave of success overseas.
After all, Giannakis was at the helm when the Greek national team won the gold medal at EuroBasket 2005 and the silver medal at the 2006 Fiba World Championship in Saitama, Japan.
China now faces the loser of the Gilas Pilipinas-Kazakhstan quarterfinal match on Saturday in the consolation pool.