President of the Chinese Basketball Association Yao Ming looks on at the 2019 Sino-Brazilian Men’s International Basketball Challenge in Wuhan, capital of central China‘s Hubei Province, Aug. 25, 2019. (Xinhua/Xiao Yijiu)
WUHAN, Aug. 25 (Xinhua) — The Chinese men’s national basketball team was beaten by Brazil 73-70 in its last warm-up game ahead of the FIBA World Cup here on Sunday.
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Zhao Rui scored a team-high 13 points for China, 10 of which came from the last quarter, while Brazil‘s Leandro Barbosa topped the game in 14 points.
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The opening minutes went in favor of the visiting team, which had a 62.5% high field goal percentage in the first quarter, whereas China only shot 38.9%. Rafael Luz made 4 straight baskets beyond the arc and Marcus Sousa added two 3-pointers to gift Brazil a 22-17 lead.
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China, in the absence of the former Huston Rockets center forward Zhou Qi, who was forced off the court on Friday due to a sprained ankle, failed to protect the paint area well. The Brazilians got five more rebounds in the second quarter and extended the lead to 43-32 by the half-time whistle.
In addition to Zhou, China‘s starting point guard Guo Ailun, who got a team-high 22 points on Friday, disappeared from the court from the second quarter.
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“Guo felt uncomfortable because of some old thigh injuries. I decided to set him aside after the first quarter. We need to keep everyone healthy as the World Cup is about to begin,” said Li Nan, the Chinese team head coach.
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After the break, the visitors kept scoring on fast breaks, and the gap was widened to 62-45 by the end of the third quarter
The host team then geared up by playing tough defense and hit four 3-pointers in the last quarter, trimming the deficit to five points to enter the final minute
Zhao Rui made two free throws when 19 seconds remaining and left China only 73-70 behind. The 23-year-old guard Zhao then completed a critical steal but missed the last opportunity to tie the game. Brazil closed the game with a 3-point advantage
“We could learn from the last quarter. How to play when we are trailing behind and how to play against a strong team like Brazil,” Li Nan added, whose team will announce the final 12-man list soon
China will play its first FIBA World Cup game against Cote d’Ivoire on August 31.
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