WITH China likely colliding with host team Gilas Pilipinas in the quarterfinals, national coach Panagiotis Giannakis expects his two injured players to rejoin the team in time for the knockout stage.
“We’re getting better, and we’re just waiting for our two good players because we have to get them back as soon as possible,” Giannakis said shortly after China’s clinical 79-45 win over hapless India Tuesday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Giannakis flashed a rare smile during the post-game interview, relaying the good news that he intends to give injured players Yi Jian Lian and starting point guard Liu Xiaoyu a runout on Wednesday against also-ran Bahrain.
“We’ll try to get him (Yi) some minutes and we’ll try to keep him fresh. But it’s good that we saved him a lot of energy. Maybe tomorrow we’ll try to use him because he needs to get to the flow of the game,” explained the well-respected Greek coach.
Yi has played only once in the team’s first five games, scoring 23 points in China’s 59-63 loss to South Korea on opening day.
The NBA veteran, who recently played for the Dallas Mavericks, had to sit out the next four games to rest his hamstring and groin injuries, which he sustained during the team’s rigorous 18-game tuneup before the Fiba-Asia tournament.
Liu, meantime, suffered a bad fall, landing hard on his back during China’s nail-biting 73-67 win over Kazakhstan on Monday.
Against Gilas Pilipinas, Giannakis said he wants his team to come out with a strong mentality, knowing that they will be up against a hostile crowd.
“We want the team to have a strong mentality. From the beginning (of the tournament), we need to play excellent every minute. They believe, they work hard, and most important is to stay in the goal we have, to qualify and go to knockout games,” he added.
China currently carries an even 2-2 record heading into its final game in the second round which the defending Asian cage champion is expected to win easily against Bahrain.