BEIJING, China (2012 London Olympics): Reigning FIBA Asia Champions China lost all their three games of this year’s YouYi Games series to Australia last week, but coach Bob Donewald Jr. is far from distraught by the blank result.
In fact, he is more confident having “learned some things about mental toughness.”
China who qualified for the 2012 London Olympics by winning the 26th FIBA Asia Championship at Wuhan last year, now move to Qingdao for a four-nation tournament starting on June 22. Montenegro, Serbia and Croatia are the other in the fray for the two-leg week-long tournament.
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In this exclusive chat with this website, Donewald dwelled on the positives the team gained from the tour of Australia despite failing to win a game.
FIBA Asia: Your quick assessment of the tour to Australia?
Donewald: The Aussies did not have 4 or 5 of their main guys, but we were really impressed with their overall depth.
The young guard (Matthew) Dellavedova has gotten much better and so have a few of the other guys. (Matthew) Nielsen, (Mark) Worthington, (Aron) Baynes and the rest of the crew really like to play physical and they wear you down. Once they get the entire group together they will be very good.
FIBA Asia: What were the gains from the tour for China?
Donewald: We learned some things about mental toughness. Australia is very physical and at home with the crowd behind them they really keep continuous pressure on you.
Teams will have to deal with their pressure and physical off the ball contact if they want to beat this team.
So, for us to go against it now – and on their home court – was really a good lesson learned.
FIBA Asia: What were the disappointments?
Donewald: None. We got better.
FIBA Asia: Wins now don’t matter as much as the ‘how’. But the way team folded up in Game 3. Was it shocking to you?
Donewald: We wore out. They are very good and very well coached. Coach Brown was back and he had his guys playing well. Give the Aussies credit.
FIBA Asia: How is the chemistry coming about between the youngsters (like Guo Ailun, Wang Zhelin) and seniors (like Sun Yue and Wang Zhizhi)?
Donewald: Chemistry for us has always been good.
We spend a lot of time together and the vets are having fun looking after and teaching the young boys.
It is neat to watch the different interactions – and really good for our team.
FIBA Asia: Does Team China now really need Yi Jianlian?
Donewald: YES! He is our main man. We look forward to getting started with him and figuring out who we are with him involved.
Both offensively and defensively we are better with him on the court. And he gives us a confidence that we need.
Again – can't wait to have him back.
S Mageshwaran / FIBA Asia