ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia (22nd FIBA Asia U18 Championship): Korea blew away a 13-point early second half lead first allowing China to regain their footing in the game and then when the game went into Overtime failed show enough initiative. The 102-107 defeat thus left Korea beaten for the first time in six games in the competition here, and at the No 2 spot in Group E Second Round standings.
China, the defending champions looking for an unprecedented 10th gold medal in the, looked far from their daunting selves that they have been so far in the competition here and relied more on the individual skills of their players to take them through in the crunch moments.
Wang Zhelin, undoubtedly the most conspicuous player of this competition scored 33 points and collected 15 rebounds – both game-highs – before fouling out with a little more a minute than left in the Overtime.
But then, Luo Hanchen and Gao Shang (pic above) had left their woeful first half form behind to take China to safety.
Gao scored 18 of his 26 points, 6 of his 8 rebounds and 5 of his 7 assists in the second half. Luo accounted for 15 of his game’s 21 points in the second half.
Korean spearhead Lee Jonghyun too fouled out in the early part of the extended period after scoring 19 points, but 12 of them having come in the first half.
“Our defense was way off our plan in the first half,” lamented China coach Wang Huaiyu.
“We were virtually allowing free passage all over. And when we started to recover their rhythm was too difficult to breach,” he said.
“I don’t think we played good at all,” said Wang Zhelin.
“But then every team is allowed to have an off day. I’m glad we won through a rough patch,” he added.
“I think the boys were a little emotionally charged and lost focus,” said Korea coach Kim Young Rae.
“Well I do think this was between two of the best teams in the competition. So most probably we’ll meet again in the Final. And I hope we can make up for this defeat then,” he added.