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2016 FIBA Stankovic Cup: NBA Draft Pick struggling to find form during tournament

Reporter: Damion Jones 丨 CCTV.com

07-09-2016 15:50 BJT

China did get their first win, but the team has looked out of sync. One player who has struggled to find his game is Zhou Qi. The man that was recently taken in the NBA Draft has been unable to play up to his standards, but a move into the starting line-up turned around his play, and the team's.

Zhou Hashing out role on national team

Zhou hashing out role on national team

A lot has been expected from Zhou Qi at the Stankovic Cup. But the man picked by the Houston Rockets in the Second Round of the NBA Draft did not play well in China's opening two losses, as he tallied a combined 8 points and 11 rebounds. Those are not acceptable stats for a center hoping to suit up in the world's top league in the near future.

Knowing he needed to reverse the team's fortunes and light a spark in his young star, coach Gong Luming decided to insert Zhou into the PRC's starting line-up against Argentina. The move energized the squad, while also improving the seven-footer's play, as the Xinjiang Flying Tiger scored 10 points, grabbed 7 rebounds, and added a apair of blocks. The boss on the bench says he's glad the change helped, but is happiest that his pupil was able to play up to his abilities.

"We were looking for Zhou Qi to play better, he needs to get stronger, physically and mentally, this will take time. I think he has been under much pressure lately, and that could have affected his mindset. We hope Zhou can find his role in the national team quickly, and that he will perform better in our upcoming games," said coach Gong.

This is a relatively young Chinese side, with just three players returning from the 2012 Olympic outfit. One of them is Yi Jianlian, and the Guangdong Southern Tigers center remains the focal point of the PRC's offense. But with so many new players, growing pains are inevitable, and it will take time for the squad to gel, as evidenced by their 24 turnovers against Argentina.

"We had problems, both offensively and defensively, I told the players we need to protect the rebounds, but we did not, and Argentina were able to grab 20 offensive rebounds. We also have to reduce our turnovers, we were sloppy with the ball. After three games, we need to analyze and figure out our mistakes, and find out how we can play smarter, and avoid making these same mistakes," said coach Gong.

Despite all the errors, China was able to polish off its first win of the tournament, 60-57 over the Argentines. But with less than a month to go until this year's Olympics, the barrage of mistakes will need to be rectified, with the opposition getting monumentally more difficult in Rio.

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