China men’s basketball to miss Olympics for first time since 1984

Society & Culture

Consecutive defeats to Canada and Greece last week spelled the end of Team China's Olympic hopes.

China loses to Canada in Olympics qualifying men's basketball

The Chinese men’s basketball team will miss out on the Olympic Games for the first time since Los Angeles 1984, ending a run of nine consecutive Games, following its successive losses to Greece and Canada in the Olympic qualifying tournament.

China arrived in Canada for the tournament with a fair wind at its back, but qualification was always going to be a long shot.

In the first game against the host country, Canada’s NBA stars demonstrated the gulf between the two sides, easing to a 109-79 victory.

A competitive first quarter saw China keep things close. Consistent scoring from Hú Míngxuān 胡明轩 and Zhōu Qí 周琦 kept China within a handful of points before a couple of turnovers gave Canada easy chances. In a blink of an eye, it went on a 7-0 run, and led 27-19.

Canada never found itself under serious pressure for the rest of the game.

Eight Canadians scored in double digits, with Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins leading the way with 20 points and Knicks guard RJ Barrett providing 16 points with five assists.

Next up for China was the world’s sixth-ranked side, Greece, who came into the game fresh off its own loss to Canada.

Exploding out of the blocks, Greece took an immediate lead, hitting 11 of 18 shots, and did not surrender it for the rest of the game, eventually winning 105-80.

Zhou Qi was the leading player for his country, with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Giannoulis Larentzakis scored a game-high 21 points.

~

China drawn into tough World Cup qualifying group

The Chinese men’s soccer team was drawn into Group B in the third round of Asian qualifying. It will need to secure a top-two finish to guarantee advancing into its first World Cup since 2002.

The other teams in the group include Oman, Vietnam, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and Australia.

Qualifying as a runner-up behind Syria in the second round, China will want to maintain and improve on the performances it showed last month.

Under coach Lǐ Tiě 李铁, who recently had his contract extended, China has played some excellent attacking soccer.

However, this qualifying stage will offer an entirely different challenge.

It’s one thing to beat the low-ranked Maldives, Philippines, and Guam, it’s another to translate those performances to elite sides like Japan and Australia.

China’s 3-1 victory over Syria in the final match of the second round should provide Li with confidence.

The matches against Vietnam, making its third-round debut, and Oman, are straightforward. Saudi Arabia is another team that China should be able to get past — the Saudis are decent, but were frustrated into draws against Palestine and Yemen in the second round.

Japan and Australia remain the greatest challenge, and China will need results against them if it is to progress. Both teams boast a significant Europe-based contingent. Both teams won eight of eight in the second round, with Australia scoring 28, conceding two, and Japan scoring an eye-popping 48 and also just conceding two.

Perhaps it’s too big of an ask to expect China to get through these fixtures; however, if it can show the same tactical discipline and mental fortitude it showed against Syria, it has a kicking chance.

China starts its campaign in Australia on September 2 before playing Japan at home five days later.

~

Other Stories:

Chinese driver Zhou Guanyu impresses as he makes his F1 practice debut (F1)

Zhang Zhizhen makes history by qualifying for Wimbledon main draw (SCMP)

Zhang: Carrying The Weight Of National History (APT)

Chad le Clos sees himself as 2016 Freestyle Gold medalist after Sun Yang ban (BBC)

Japanese shuttlers bid to challenge Chinese dominance (Reuters)


The China Sports Column runs every week on SupChina.