Fans furious after China fails to make it to final 16 at FIBA World Cup

By Lu Wenao Source:Global Times Published: 2019/9/5 2:25:32

Photo: Cui Meng/GT

Chinese basketball fans were furious after China's national basketball team failed to make into the last 16 of FIBA World Cup on Wednesday, as the team suffered a disappointing 72-59 defeat to Venezuela in Beijing.

At the near-capacity Wukesong Arena, basketball fans were calling for the resignation of China's head coach Li Nan, chanting "Li Nan Xiake" (dismiss Li Nan) in the final quarter of the game.

 "Li Nan's tactics" was among the top 10 trending topics on Weibo Wednesday night. 

Many fans questioned the coach's tactics in the tournament, where China was in a humble group with Poland, Venezuela and Côte d'Ivoire but failed to make into the second round. 

In defense of his coaching strategy, Li blamed the lack of physicality of his players for the defeat. "Though our players may be taller, our opponents were physically stronger than us, which put us in a disadvantaged situation," Li said. "We need to improve our players' physical fitness first to have a better understanding of techniques."

He also noted the previous defeat to Poland on Monday, when China lost 79-76, had made his players lose confidence. 

It was not until the final quarter that a Chinese player scored double digits. Only three Chinese players - guards Fang Shuo and Zhao Jiwei, and center Yi Jianlian - scored more than 10 points.

The Venezuelans, with an average height of 1.96 meters and age of 30.5 years old, compared to China's height of 2.00 meters and age of 25.5 years old, outperformed China with 21 more rebounds.

"We were not on alert as as our opponents when taking rebounds," Li told reporters. "Lack of determination also impaired our performance."   

China has never won a match against Venezuela. Before Wednesday's game, the two teams last squared off at the 2016 Olympic Games, where China were edged 72-68 in Rio de Janerio. 

China will play in the ranking games on Friday and Sunday, when the team is set to face South Korea and Nigeria in Guangzhou, capital of South China's Guangdong Province. 

Some Chinese fans have started to compare the national basketball team, once deemed Asia's best, to China's national football team, known for its underachieving performances on the international stage.

The national football team is also in Guangzhou this week preparing for the qualifying games of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

"Now two underachieving teams are both in Guangzhou," a basketball fan posted on Weibo. "It's a little bit weird but it's time to make a comparison of which team is worse."


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