Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Australia beat China in first 2012 venue match

Photograph by: Suzanne Plunkett, Reuters
LONDON, Aug 16, 2011 (AFP) - Australia won the first match at the 2012 London Olympics Basketball Arena, beating China 71-43 on Tuesday in the opening game of a six-team tournament.

The London International Basketball Invitational is being used by the Games organisers to test out the 12,000-seater temporary venue, while for the teams it is a chance to square up with some tough opposition ahead of next month’s 2011 European and Asian championships, and the Olympic qualifying rounds.

China’s Su Wei scored the first points at the new venue 14 seconds in, the centre getting on the scoresheet with a lay-up.

In the third minute, his Hongyuan team-mate Wang Shipeng scored the first three-pointer.

China held a slender advantage but Australia levelled matters at 14-14 before Gold Coast Blaze guard Adam Gibson put them two points ahead with two seconds to go in the first quarter.

Australia never looked back from there, extending their lead to 32-19 at half-time following a second quarter injury to Wang Shipeng, who landed badly on his right forearm and took no further part in the game.

Australia were 53-32 up after 30 minutes and outscored China again in the final quarter for a 71-43 victory.

The round-robin tournament, which runs till Sunday, features Serbia, ranked eighth in the world, Australia (9th), China (10th), France (14th), Croatia (19th) and Great Britain (56th).

Australia’s Damian Martin declared himself pleased with the new venue.

"The arena’s amazing. It’s a world class facility. We walked in and we were all like excited little kids to see where the Olympics is going to be held next year," the Perth Wildcats guard told AFP.

"It’s just a great event that we can come here and test it out a year in advance. It’s a fantastic facility.

"London’s done a great job and to have a test event a year out, it’s only going to get better come 2012.

"This is an amazing event with some world class teams so to be able to come here and test ourselves against some of the best teams in the world before we try and qualify for the Olympics, it can only do us some positive things."

China coach Robert Donewald was concerned about Wang Shipeng adding to the casualty list ahead of next month’s Asian championships in Wuhan.

"We’re confident but if we’re not healthy, you can’t play kids and win grown men’s games," the American told reporters.

"That took some life out of the game. We’ve got young players in the game, Wang Shipeng goes down and I take a time out and you could see the faces as Wang Shipeng walks off the floor.

"We just couldn’t get them up again because it was like, wow, here we go again with another injury."

In Tuesday’s other matches, Croatia beat Serbia 83-71 and France defeated hosts Great Britain 82-60.
© Copyright (c) AFP


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