BASKETBALL

Greece thumps China to set up key clash with Turkey

greece-thumps-china-to-set-up-key-clash-with-turkey

Greece’s men’s basketball team sailed to a 105-80 victory over China in the Olympic qualifying tournament in Victoria, Canada on Thursday, keeping alive its hopes of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympic Games and knocking China out of the competition.

Greece, who is sixth in the world rankings, shot 55.2% from the field, and their 12 three-pointers doubled China’s tally.

Five Greek players reached double figures, led by Giannoulis Larentzakis’ 21 points. Kostas Sloukas bagged 14 points, while Leonidas Kaselakis and Dinos Mitoglou had 12 apiece.

As both sides had lost to Canada in previous matches, Thursday’s head-to-head had a big say on their quest for an Olympic ticket.

Greece was hot from the start, racing ahead 10-3 en route to a 20-point advantage at half-time.

“We didn’t fully prepare for this game at the start, and thought it would be an easy one to handle. They showed great competitiveness in defense, and we failed to make response on the offensive end, thus digging a big hole in the first quarter,” China head coach Du Feng told a press conference.

Chinese players buckled up defense after the intermission and outscored their opponents 27-24 in the third quarter.

However, they were unable to put on further resistance afterwards, and will not feature at an Olympic Games for the first time since 1984.

Greece joins Canada to advance from Group A, and will take on Group B’s top finisher Turkey in Saturday’s semifinal.

Winners from the four Olympic qualifying tournaments will qualify for the Tokyo Games as the tournaments are underway in Victoria, Belgrade, Kaunas and Split.

[Xinhua]