ASIAN Games champion China took a giant leap in the race for the lone Paris Olympics ticket, beating Angola, 83-76, in the FIBA World Cup 2023 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Winless in three games in the first round, the Chinese finally flexed their muscles by outscoring the Angolans, 24-14, in the third quarter enroute to a much-needed victory in the 16-team classification phase.
Hu Jinqiu, Kyle Anderson , Hu Mingxuan and Zhou Qi provided the firepower for the Chinese, who broke away from a 45-45 standoff at halftime behind superb third-quarter shooting.
Jinqui, a 6-11 center from Zhejiang Lions, finished with a game-high 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting in 32 minutes, while Anderson, the newly-naturalized player from the Minnesota Timberwolves, added 17 points, seven rebounds and four assists in his best game in the FIBA World Cup so far.
Childe Dundao and NBA veteran Bruno Fernando led Angola with 17 and 16 points, respectively.
Fernando, the 6-10 forward of the Atlanta Hawks, also had six rebounds and two assists.
Silvio de Souza added 13 points an nine reobunds for Angola, whose lone victory in the tournament came against host Philippines, 89-70, last Aug. 27.
Gerson Goncalves, the top scorer of Angola against the Philippines, was limited to only eight points on 2-of-9 shooting.
China is one of several Asian countries vying for the lone Asian ticket to the Paris Olympics.
The 2019 FIBA host is seen as the biggest rival of hosts Philippines and Japan for the lone ticket, and the victory over Angola is a good step towards earning the Asian slot.
Anderson, whose Chinese name is Li Kaier, had earlier expressed his excitement to play against former collegiate rival Jordan Clarkson of the Philippines in their much-awaited duel on Sept.2.
“I’ve been playing against him (Clarkson) since college, so it’s always fun to go against him. And that’s one of my friends off the court, so it’ll be fun to compete,” the 6-9 Anderson was quoted as saying.
“I think we just have to look at how we can get better with this game and try to go out there and play hard the next game and figure it out. We need some time to prepare,” said Anderson, whose team Minnesota Timberwolves figured in many memorable battles with Clarkson’s Utah Jazz.
The two players also clashed during their US NCAA Division I days as Anderson suited up for UCLA while Clarkson for Tulsa and Missouri.
China (83) – Jinqiu 20, Kaier 17, Mingxuan 16, Qi 10, Zhenlin 5, Rui 5, Jiwei 4, Junlong 3, Hao 3, Yongxi 0,
Angola (76) – Dundao 17, Fernando 16, De Sousa 13, Bango 10, Goncalves 8, Francisco 5, Monteiro 3, Kokila 2, Paulo 2, Maconda 0, Fernandes 0
Quarterscores: 24-27, 45-45, 69-59, 83-76.