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2016 FIBA Stankovic Cup: China aiming to build on fourth place


07-10-2016 16:02 BJT

China wrapped up the Stankovic Cup with a record of one win and three losses. But the team's primary focus is on a bigger tournament that tips off in less than one month. That means the squad will turn up the intensity both in practice and in their remaining exhibtions, before heading to the Rio Olympics. Damion Jones lays out the squad's major concerns.

The 2016 edition of the Stankovic Cup is not one that China will reflect upon with fondness. The PRC's only victory came against Argentina, and they ended the weekend in the event's fourth and final position, after dropping the Consolation Game versus Nigeria.

Coach Gong Luming says he is not pleased with his team's results, exacerbated by numerous problems on both offense and defense. But the squad did improve in several areas as the tournament progressed, with the man on the sideline showing frustration and understanding as necessary. He is also aware that while Yi Jianlian is very experienced on the international level, most of the roster is young, and in need of more reps.

"We can see some improvements from this game, and we are still try to reach our best level. Actually we had several great chances to score, but we missed some of them because of our shooting problems. We also need to focus on defensive rebounding, movement, and active attacking. And in our next few games, we are going to improve, step by step. It is good for us to learn about these problems before the Rio Olympics," said Gong.

Gong has been China's coach for the past two years, leading the team to the title at last fall's FIBA Asia Championship, and guiding the squad to a spot at the upcoming Rio Summer Olympics. But since the retirements of stars like Yao Ming and Wang Zhizhi, the PRC has been going through a generational transition and rebuilding process on the hardwood. That means the boss on the bench is thinking not just about immediate satisfaction, but more about longterm overall planning.

Gong said, "Yes. We have some difficulties. We need to make adjustments, both in practice, and in games. Right now, our top priority is to solve these problems."

China reached the Quarter-Finals at the Olympics in 1996, 2004, and 2008. Gong was a member of the country's first team to reach that stage, 20 years ago at the Atlanta Games.

Now he's making the calls from the sideline, charged with leading the PRC back from their dismal zero win performance at London 2012, and trying to craft a new chapter in the national squad's history. His men will tip off in Rio on August 6th, against the 14-time gold medalists from the USA.

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