China falls to Lebanon in FIBA Asia Cup in stunning upset

Society & Culture

Meanwhile: China’s Feng Bin won women’s discus gold at the World Athletics Championships.

China's Gu Quan drives past Lebanon's Hayk Gyokchyan. (Photo by Dita Alangkara, AP)

China lost to Lebanon in the FIBA Asia Cup quarterfinals, 72-69, on Wednesday in Jakarta. The result is considered a huge upset, as this marks the first time Lebanon has defeated China in this quadrennial tournament.

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— FA Lebanon (@FALebanon) July 20, 2022

Per usual, China had high expectations heading into the tournament, but its campaign got off to a rocky start after the squad was hit with a COVID outbreak pre-tournament after arriving in Indonesia. Centers Wang Zhelin and Zhou Qi, who lost five kilograms during his bout with COVID, were forced to sit out against South Korea, a game in which China lost 93-81.

After the Lebanon loss, coach Du Feng admitted that he had other players who weren’t at 100 percent.

Despite the challenges, China showed signs of improvement compared to previous tournament, which included embarrassing performances in the World Cup and the previous year’s Olympics. At the FIBA Asia Cup, it beat Bahrain 90-79 and dispatched Chinese Taipei 95-80 to finish second in Group B.

In the pre-quarters, China thrashed hosts Indonesia 108-58 to set up the quarterfinal game against Lebanon.

China looked sloppy from the start against Lebanon, with a series of misplaced passes and unforced errors. Lebanon, on the other hand, was clinal, stretching out a 57-44 lead by the end of the third quarter.

China finally turned up in the final quarter, even taking a lead with three minutes to go. But the team had used up its reserves by then, and faded down the stretch.

Lebanon, for its part, understands how monumental its win over China was. The Middle East newspaper The National reports:

Speaking after the victory, Lebanese player Hayk Gyokchyan described it as a “historic win for Lebanon, for Lebanese basketball, for the people of Lebanon” after beating “one of the best teams in Asia… who have been perennially great.”

“We’re so lucky and blessed to be part of this team,” he said.

Arakji said: “We come from a broken country. We come from a country that’s full of sadness. So, we just want to make our people happy.”

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More success for China at World Athletics Championships

China’s Feng Bin out-threw the Olympic champion to win the women’s discus title at the World Athletics Championships with a new personal best of 69.12m.

Feng’s win is China’s second gold at the athletic worlds.

Feng was stiff competition in the final against reigning Olympic champion Valarie Allman from the U.S. and the two-time Olympic champion Sandra Perkovic of Croatia.

Although only qualifying as the eighth best, Feng threw the winning attempt on her very first throw, setting the mark at 69.12, ahead of 67-meter efforts from the Croatian and American. Feng’s previous personal best of 66.0m was also beaten on her third throw.

Before this year’s Eugene, Oregon World Athletics Championships, Feng’s previous best result was a fifth place at the Doha World Championships in 2019. Feng finished 17th at last year’s Tokyo Olympics, missing out on qualification to the final.

While it remains to be seen whether Feng will be able to emerge as a true Olympic contender, clearly the last 12 months have seen Feng transform.

Like Wang Jianan’s surprise gold in the long jump at the start of the event, China may have been blessed with two real gold-medal contenders ahead of the Paris Olympics in two years.

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Other Stories:

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Postponed Hangzhou Asian Games dates announced (Reuters)

Chinese Super League offers a lesson in how to kill a sport (Nikkei)

China’s skateboarding roll is just beginning (Jing Daily)


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