By Milan Lazarevic
After Acropolis Cup in Athens Lithuania came to Belgrade to play on this tournament and it was obvious that they are tired in this moment. Angolans showed that they are fantastically physically trained, but they really need lot of work on technical field.
Anyway, against Argentina Lithuania must show lot of improvements if they want to play in finale.
At the other side, China was surprisingly good, and won against Australia after amazing performance of whole team.
CHINA ? AUSTRALIA 84:82 (21:13, 16:16, 23:27, 24:26)
Chinese players showed impressive technical knowledge yesterday. This match surely gave lot of optimism to all their funs and probably to their coach Del Harris.
This was the first dramatic ending on this tournament, but we couldn?t predict that after very good start from Yao Ming and co. Series 8:0 gave them a lead 13:8 and till the end of the first half they were superior to their opponents.
Curiosity is that Ming didn?t play 15 minutes in first half; it wasn?t necessary. Zhu was very good from outside and with quality organization in offense solutions Chinese simply ruled in first half.
Australian team had lot of problems in offense. Shane Heal was the only solid player in that category, but he forced shoot for 3. In whole match Australians were shooting for 3: 38-12 (in first half 22-5?!). Too bad for a team who depends on good shoot.
But in third quarter, Nielsen finally showed something from his wide repertoire. In that period he scored 14 pts, but there were much important his perfect defense abilities. Nielsen will probably sign for Denver Nuggets after more then good performances in their camp this summer. He showed that he can be one of the leaders of this team, of course with Heal and probably Andersen ? new star of CSKA. But, Andersen was too shy last night. He didn?t play freely like he deserves but that is a probably just a question of time.
So, after solid roles by Heal and Nielsen, Australia came to 51:50 (series 18:4). But then Del Harris brought back Yao Ming in a game and that was the beginning of the end for ?the boomers?. Even then Australians had enough strength to take a lead 76:74 2 minutes till the end. But, star from the Houston was unstoppable and with his 229cm simply dominated under both baskets and finished this duel with 29 pts (11/8 for 2 and 17/12 for 1) and 9 rebounds. He had assistance from young Yi Yianlian (a guy with 217cm and 16 years)? that was too much for Australians who simply didn?t have answer for these 2 giants.
At the end Australians had chance for overtimes but Heal missed, and after him Anthony Robertson missed for 3 and win.
It will be sin not to notice very good Fangju (19 pts) who was true leader of his team in first half. In Australian team Mathew Nielsen was the best scorer with 24 pts (just 3 in first half, 21 in second), Heal ended match with 18 and Bogut with 9 pts.
Del Harris (Chinese coach): ?We are very happy after this triumph because every win is very important. We were leading during whole match, but at the end we were afraid for result. Australia played, like always, very good? Anyway, they are strong because they are wrestling all the time with crocodiles.? ? well, it was hard for everyone to understand this joke at the end?
Brian Gordian (Australia coach): ?We needed 40 hours to come in Belgrade. We were very tired and we played like we were still in the plain. In second half this team showed that they have character, but Yao Ming dominated during whole duel and was a key for Chinese triumph?.
ANGOLA ? LITHUANIA 68:84 (18:27, 15:18, 22:17, 13:22)
Europe Champions, National team of Lithuania, started with a win on this tournament and today in a match against Argentina they will try to win again and reach finale.
They played just enough for an easy win against very motivated African Champions.
Match was equalized just in first 6 minutes, when Angola had a lead (11:9), but then we could see series from Lithuania 13:2, enough for calm end of first half.
Javtokas and Jasikevicijus were the best in that period; but few assists from Saras were like from the dream.
Angola had some chances in second and third quarter when they almost equalized (26:29 in second and 58:62 in 3rd quarter) but for something more they should stop Sarunas who scored 2 times in a row for 3 and decided.
In second half Sireika gave chance to all players. Lavrinovic was very good again in Lithuanian team in this training period and ended this match with 15 pts. But, it will be very hard to isolate some player because of lot of rotations.
3000 people in ARENA supported very loud Angolans, they were close in one moment (60:66), but that was all from them? Moussa (8 pts) and Carvalo (12 pts) were better then others? not enough
Mario Palma (Angola coach): ?It is always hard to play against such strong opponent like Lithuania is. We had lot of problems, but I am pleased with resistance hich we demonstrated. I think that difference in quality is now much lower then 5 or 6 years ago?
Antanas Sireika (Lithuania coach): ?We were experimenting a lot with our playing, which is normal for this period of trainings. There was lot of good and too much bad things today. But, there is enough time till Olympics?.