Zhou under fire after disappointing performance in loss

By Lu Wenao Source:Global Times Published: 2019/9/3 19:58:41

A dejected Chinese fan looks away as a jubilant Polish fan celebrates Poland's victory over China in the FIBA World Cup on Monday in Beijing. Photo: VCG

For costing China's lead in the final minutes of Monday's game that ­ended up with a 79-76 loss to Poland at the FIBA World Cup, China's center Zhou Qi drew heavy online criticism following for his poor performance.

"It was a tough night. I had the ­major responsibility for the turnovers," Zhou told reporters Tuesday after a training session. 

With only 4.2 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter with China up by one point, Zhou's sideline inbound pass to teammate Zhao Rui was intercepted by Poland's Mateusz Ponitka, who later scored a free throw to force the game into overtime. 

The topic of Zhou's turnovers topped trends on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo social media platform on Tuesday night, with fans mocking the former Houston Rockets player for not learning from the NBA. 

Captain Yi Jianlian came out to defend his team, saying "if we cannot stand together when defeated, the future for the team won't be a success. That's the most important part of team sport."

China made a solid start against Poland on Monday until in the final quarter and overtime the team's lack of free throw accuracy - missing eight of 33 shots - effectively impaired their offensive efforts. China also turned the ball over 18 times in 45 minutes, compared to 11 for Poland.

"I think it's good to see he [Zhou] is willing to take the responsibility," head coach Li Nan told reporters on Tuesday. "The team trust Zhou, and he passes well, but he needs to improve when ­under pressure."

Li noted that the public focus should not be on the turnovers of an individual player, but a solution to help the whole team improve. That triggered concerns about the coach's tactics.

"Why's the coach so reluctant to take responsibility for the players?" a fan posted. "It's a coach's job to find the solution to improve, not the public's."

Some fans took a swipe at Li over his decision to put star point guard Guo Ailun back on court when he already fouled four times in the third quarter. 

Guo, who in a previous game tormented Cote d'Ivoire's solid defense line, was sent off for his fifth foul, limiting China's offensive tactics.

China will face Venezuela on Wednesday at the Wukesong Arena in Beijing. A win will secure China a place in the second round, with matches to be played in Foshan in South China's Guangdong Province. 

China are seeking to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics through the World Cup, as an Olympic berth will be given to Asia's best team at the World Cup, excluding Japan who are the Olympic hosts. 


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