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China come up just short against Brisbane Bullets in basketball battle

GOLD COAST, Australia, July 18 (Xinhua) -- China's Blue National Basketball team went down fighting against Australia's Brisbane Bullets on the Gold Coast on Tuesday night.

Both teams started the game hard, with a lack of offensive firepower from either side as the teams struggled early on to find baskets, but two-time CBA champion Li Gen asserted himself in the early going by grinding in the post, and putting away a considerable pressure from the on-ball defender.

Han Dejun of China (left)
After giving up points in the restricted area for the first five minutes, Coach Du went to his bench and brought on Han Dejun, and the 7-footer made an immediate impact with a quick two-pointer.

The huge center's entry kick-started China into action, with a flurry of quick transition points soon following, as the superior speed of the Chinese team was on full display.

Han was setting some extremely hard screens, and also gave China the interior presence they lacked, opened up lanes for the guards to exploit, and distributed the ball from the post to set up his teammates.

The big man asserted himself in the game and made up for lost ground - after missing the matchup in Melbourne - firing in low post points at will, with the highlight of his play in the first being an absolutely devastating roll move into a powerful dunk.

Ren Junfei closed out the first with a three-pointer in the final seconds to send the game into the second quarter with China holding onto a 6-point lead.

The start of the second was scrappy, with both sides playing a loose style of physical basketball that led to turnovers.

This style of play continued most of the way through the second quarter, with Han keeping the game close as the Bullets went on a scoring run - with the score at the half a tie at 43-43.

The third quarter started well for China, with Wu Qian with an early two on one fast break score to start the quarter.

Two minutes in, Li Gen hit a sublime corner three - and he parked on the opposite side on the next possession - but was unable to convert after some swift passing movement from his teammates.

Li continued his scoring with scoring in the low post four minutes into the quarter, refusing to be bullied by Isaih Tueta of the Bullets, with both sides going back and forth as the game wore on.

Then with three minutes left in the quarter, Li channeled his inner James Harden, with a sweet euro step layup that sent the bumper crowd in the Gold Coast wild, following that with a dagger three pointer, sitting on 12 points at that time.

Han continued his low post dominance, and the third quarter ended with the China team up by three points.

However, as the fourth quarter began, the Bullets team found a new gear, as Lance Hurdle hit an open three to tie the game.

The rest of the game saw the Bullets squad pull their lead out, as the young Chinese team was unable to chip at the deficit fast enough to get back into the game, despite some spirited defense on their part.

One of the highlights of the match was a savage no-look behind the back pass from Han, who whipped the ball across court to his teammate who drilled the open three, but with 2 minutes and 42 seconds, the Bullets responded with a quick two-pointer and pulled away to a nine point lead.

The Brisbane squad was too much in the end, winning the game by 89-83 points.

Coach Du had praise for the Bullets squad after the match, and told Xinhua that the Australian team came out with "high intensity" that was hard for his team to overcome.

"We had 23 turnovers, this was due to the intensity of the local players on the defensive end, our young guards had a lot of turnovers, so it is a good experience for the younger players to learn - and get better," Du said.

After the match, the coach of the Bullets, Andrej Lemanis, told Xinhua that the victory for his team was down to countering the solid play of the young Chinese team, and striving to be "disruptive."

"They (China) execute their stuff very well, they shoot the ball well, and they obviously use the big fella (Han Dejun) well," Lemanis said.

"So if you just let them come down, get set, and execute their offense, you are in for a big night, and I think that showed in the first quarter - we gave them (China) 28 points,"

"However as the game evolved, and we started to understand how we could be more disruptive, I think we did a good job of making those adjustments - and making them have to just play under a little bit more disruption and pressure," he added.

But the Bullets coach had fond words for the China "Blue" team, and reiterated that their execution was one of the key things that impressed him throughout the game.

"They understand where their strengths are. They put the big fella in (Han Dejun) and they run plays to get him the ball in the block (low post) and he passes the ball really well, they space really well off it," Lemanis said.

"And then they run really good stuff for their shooters. Like I think they are, they execute their stuff really well, they are well drilled, they are disciplined, and they are playing to their strengths."

The top performers for China were Han Dejun, who finished with 22 points - Li Gen who impressed with 18 points on 58 percent shooting - and Hu Jinqiu who had a full stat line with 9 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 steals.

Source: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-07/18/c_136453727.htm

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