Basketball: China boss wants players to show more ‘confidence’ after yet another World Cup warm-up loss

China boss Aleksandar Dordevic had asked his players to be more “confident” on the court, after yet another loss on Sunday in their build-up to the FIBA Basketball World Cup.

In their final warm-up game for the summer’s showpiece event, the hosts lost 87-64 on Sunday in Shenzhen to Serbia – whom they face again in their first group B match, in Quezon City, the Philippines, this weekend.

Despite the team suffering their sixth loss in nine games, head coach Dordevic showed no signs of dejection.

“We didn’t start well as the players were intimidated by our opponents,” the Serbian said. “We respected them too much and were not able to play to our standard.

“We must build our self-confidence and fight until the end. My players certainly gave everything, some of our plays were not well executed but I think they played well.”

China’s 87-64 loss to Serbia marks their sixth loss in nine games. Photo: Xinhua

The hosts scored only 12 points in the opening quarter and trailed 43-28 at halftime. The two teams were evenly matched in the third after the restart but the visitors again outscored the Chinese in the final period to notch a comfortable 23-point win.

“I always hoped the team can play more aggressively in the opening and closing stages,” Dordevic added.

“The group games begin in one week, we need to rest before heading to Manila. The players need to train as hard as they have been, analyse the matches and be ready to play Serbia again, as well as the other opponents.”

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Guards Hu Mingxuan and Zhao Rui, both of whom were on the team when China hosted the previous World Cup in 2019, had a decent game.

Hu, 25, chipped in a team-high 14 points on 50 per cent shooting on the court, while Zhao knocked down three from long range to add 13.

“Despite our difference with Serbia, we never gave up and were chasing all along,” Zhao said.

“The team were united and motivated, our goals are the same, we just have to deal with the details in the next match [and we will be better].”

China’s Hu Mingxuan and Zhao Rui score 14 and 13 points respectively, while Kyle Anderson scored six. Photo: Xinhua

Newly naturalised Chinese citizen Kyle Anderson, whose Chinese name is Li Kaier, had a quiet game with six points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals.

Star player Zhou Qi, who just finalised a move to Guangdong on Saturday, however, had a game to forget. The 27-year-old missed all six shots on the court to finish with only one point, and six rebounds in 17 minutes.

The 2.16-metre centre, who played 22 games for the NBA’s Houston Rockets from 2017 to 2019, averaged 12 points and five rebounds in his five previous matches for the national team before Sunday’s encounter.

Following Saturday’s game against Serbia, China will play tournament debutants South Sudan on August 28, before wrapping their group stage against Puerto Rico two days later.

Only the top two teams from each group will advance to the second round at the World Cup – which runs from August 25 to September 10 in the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia – with the rest of the teams to battle it out for final rankings in classification games.



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