As expected, the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship in Wuhan preliminary rounds went off without a hitch for the Chinese, who blew past every opponent in all of their five games en route to tomorrow night’s quarterfinals match against Lebanon.
Playing against the likes of Bahrain, United Arab Emirates and Syria, head coach Bob Donewald Jr. has wisely decided to liberally spread out the minutes in order to save his trusted, yet older, core group of players for the inevitable bigger games against Korea and Iran.
So with big wins against every opponent, has their been any highlights for the first round? Words to you, my friends: there’s highlights in everything if you know where to look. And this being basketball, we definitely know where to look.
And if you want to check out game recaps and box scores from China’s first five games, we know where to look for those, too.
Wang Zhizhi can still dunk
On Monday night, a noticeably springy Wang came out of the gate in the first quarter with something to prove, showing he’s still got game at 34 years of age by throwing a silly-stupid post move around a hapless Syrian defender before hitting a vintage stepback three in the first quarter.
And then, not content to just rely on crafty old-man YMCA/JCC moves, Da Zhi showed everyone he’s still got some ups, (barely) flushing home a dunk on a breakaway. Heck, we didn’t even know he had ups in the first place. Video below.
Yao Ming is a pretty good announcer
One of the highlights of the earlier rounds has been listening to Yao Ming’s color commentary on CCTV-5. Sitting alongside play-by-play mainstay, Yu Jia, Yao has provided audiences with the clear, intelligible and unique analysis that often goes missing on Chinese broadcasts. Yao not only explains the what, he explains the why and he does it without all of the ranting and rambling that usually accompanies all of that with other announcers both in China and the States. His postgame interviews of players have been good too, though it’s easy to see that players feel a little weird answering questions from one of their recent former teammates.
Now, we say this with somewhat of a heavy heart, because there’s defintely a part of us that misses Zhang Weiping. A longtime basketball commentator who once coached the Chinese National Team in the 1980s, Zhang has been calling and reporting the game for over two decades. And doing so with the objectivity of Tommy Heinsohn. But, that’s not a bad thing. As people who grew up watching the Celtics with Tommy’s unapologetic homerism blaring out of our television speakers, Zhang’s blatant pro-China commentary makes us feel more nostalgic than anything. Plus, in a tournament that has lacked excitement, we’d gladly welcome some added entertainment, intentional or unintentional.
Maybe a three man booth would do the trick?
South Korea unhappy with the way China is running the tournament
Korean national team head coach, Jae Hur, is upset with the way the Chinese have been handing out practice times during the tournament. According to Asia-Basket, Korea has been complaining that they have been able to get access to good practice facilities, nor have they given enough time to train.
Said the coach, “Yesterday, I asked a practice time on the main court. However, that request was denied. Organizing committee explained that every team can not practice on the main court. But we already knew that Chinese National team has been playing on the main court everyday.”
He is also wary of the living arrangemetns for the FIBA refs, who are apparently staying in the same hotel as the Chinese National Team. Whoa, whoa. China? Corrupt referees? Get out of here…
Qatar protests FIBA ruling by fouling out its entire team
One of the most bizarre things to ever hit international basketball occurred in the tournament’s first round when FIBA ruled five of Qatar’s 11 players ineligible just before their first game against Uzbekestan on September 15th. The players were found to have dual-nationality, and as FIBA rules state that only one player per roster can be naturalized, the organization stepped in and disallowed the offending players from participating.
To protest, Qatari coach Ali Fakhroo ordered his players to intentionally foul out of the game as quickly as possible. Qatar was eventually disqualified midway through the first quarter when they were unable to put more than three players on the floor. The same thing happened in their next game in Iran before they eventually played a real game against Taiwan, which they lost.
As you’re likely never to see anything stranger on paper, the box score is definitely worth a look.