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Lithuania Win Stankovic Cup, China a Disappointing Fourth

Lithuania won the Stankovic Continental Champions Cup after edging out African champions Angola 77-73 on Sunday to finish the six-day tournament with a 4-1 aggregate.

Argentina beat Puerto Rico to snatch second place with the same aggregate score but a loss to Lithuania cost it the championship.

Australia defeated China to win third place.

In the first game on the last day of the tournament, the Angolans controlled the first three quarters and were leading 70-69 in the fourth. But the Lithuanians successfully turned the tables on Africa's champions by making a blistering 6-point run in the last 3 minutes.

"This is a great victory for us and it is obviously an exciting experience to win a high-level tournament here in China." Valdemaras Chomicius, Lithuani's head coach, said.

Lithuania lost only one match in the tournament to Australia.

Later in the day, despite Puerto Rico's Apodaca scoring a game-high of 31 points, the team still failed to stop its losing streak falling to Argentina 79-86.

The Argentineans maintained their superiority during the entire 40 minutes as they led 23-14 after the first quarter, 45-40 after halftime, and 70-65 after the third period.

Argentina were tournament runners-up with a 4-1 aggregate. Puerto Rico finished last having lost all 5 games.

The last game, the third-place decider, saw China take on Australia.

China's captain Li Nan was on the starting roster for their last game of the tournament. A jumper from No.15 Wade Helliwell of Australia opened the scoreboard. China's players were frozen by Australia's man-to-man defense and only managed 4 points in the first 6 minutes. 

Australia started the second period 18-11 and continued to dominate the under-ring play. They built a 10-point lead with 6:30 remaining in the second quarter. Mo Ke and Liu Wei sandwiched a bank shot by Yi Jianlian with two 3-pointers to cut China's deficit to 2 points with just over 2 minutes to go. But Yi was soon baited into his third personal foul and was substituted by Tang Zhengdong. Australia ended the first half 37-30.

Australia extended their lead to 45-31 with 7:20 left in the third quarter. Li Nan drained three 3-pointers and helped China to narrow the deficit to 5 points. But Tang Zhengdong's slew of unforced errors depressed China's efforts yet again. Australia took the opportunity to end the third quarter 57-46.

Li Nan sunk his fourth 3-pointer to open the last period. But the other Chinese players still languished in a low field-goal percentage rut. Australia maintained their lead and finally won the game 71-58.

"Without Yao Ming, we lost control under the ring. Our outside players could not find any chance as the paint was badly pushed," China's head coach Jonas Kazlauskas said.

China finished fourth on aggregate, having won only two games against Angola and Puerto Rico.

Despite his disappointing performance scoring just five points in 35 minutes, China's small forward Zhu Fangyu still made it to the All-star Five line-up. Also in the line-up were Lithuania's power forward Martynas Andriukaitits, Argentina's center Gabriel Fernandez, Australia's guard CJ Bruton and Rick Apodaca of Puerto Rico. Lithuania's Martynas Andriukaitits was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament.

Final standings:

Champion: Lithuania
Runner-up: Argentina
Third place: Australia
Fourth place: China
Fifth place: Angola
Sixth place: Puerto Rico

(China.org.cn by staff reporter Li Xiao, August 1, 2005)

China Beaten by Australia 58-71
Australia Upset Lithuania 109-96
Puerto Rico Extend Losing Streak to 4
Round 3: Argentina Suffered First Lose
Basketball: China's Hoopsters Lose with Pride
China Edge out Angola 62-61
Round 2: Argentina Down Angola 83-64
Basketball: Yao, Ginobili to Miss Stankovic Cup
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