KUNSHAN, China (2012 London Olympics): With their former iconic teammate Yao Ming watching with unflinching interest Wang Zhizhi and Yi Jianlian produced the most cohesive performance in China’s preparations for the 2012 London Olympics in the 88-80 win against Serbia on Sunday, which brought the curtain down on the first leg of the four-nation tournament.
China, who defeated Montenegro 83-55 on Friday and Croatia 84-63 on Saturday, thus carry forward an unbeaten record into the second leg of the tournament starting at Yongcheng in Henan province on Wednesday.
Wang Zhizhi and Yi Jianlian were playing together for the first time since China had beaten Jordan in the gold medal game of the 26th FIBA Asia Championship at Wuhan last September.
Yi Jianlian, currently the only Chinese player in the NBA, started the game and gave the early impetus to the Chinese offense. And Wang Zhizhi, the first ever Chinese player to make it to the NBA grade, came off the bench midway through the first quarter and joined the party to carry forward the momentum.
Wang Zhizhi went on to finish with an impressive 10/13 field shooting – including a 3/4 in three-pointers – and an impeccable 4/4 from the foul-line for his 27 points.
The 35-year-old, who was picked by Dallas Mavericks in the 1999 NBA Draft, also hauled down 6 rebounds.
Yi Jianlian, who recently returned from the NBA having donned the Dallas Mavericks colors, had 23 points in 5/12 field shooting.
Wang Shipeng, who missed the 26th FIBA Asia Championship due to a wrist injury made a strong impression to make the final roster with a dozen points.
“Today, we started the game playing pretty good defense, but relaxed a wee bit later on,” said China coach Bob Donewald Jr.
“That probably happened because we wanted to increase the tempo of the game on the offense and wanted to get our fast breaks going,” he said.
“We haven’t repeated any of our tactics in the three games so far. And each of them have worked very well,” he said.