China fell to Czech Republic 98-83 on Wednesday to suffer its second straight defeat at the Athens Olympics women's basketball tournament.
After the hotly contested first half that saw the two sides tied at 49-49, the Chinese women suddenly lost the steam at the beginning of the third quarter as the Czechs surged ahead 62-49 with a 13-3 run.
Czech Republic held on in the fourth quarter for its first win at the women's basketball tournament following losses to Spain and the United States.
"We changed our defensive tactics in the second half, that's the key to our victory," said Czech head coach Jan Bobrovsky.
The Chinese women, who made seven three-pointers in nine attempts in the first half, dropped to 2-for-9 from beyond the arch in the second.
"We did a good job in defense early in the second half, especially in limiting the Chinese three-pointer shooters," said Ivana Vecerova. "In the rest of the game, we just had to hold on."
Jana Vesela led Czech with 22 points and seven rebounds, Eva Viteckova chipped in 20 points.
"The Czech made some change in defense at the beginning of the second half, we were not able to adjust to it soon enough," said Miao Lijie, who scored 16 points for China before being fouled outeight minutes and 40 seconds from the end.
China, who played man-on-man defense all through the game, struggled with foul trouble with Miao and Ye Li, who shot 4-for-4 from three-pointer range to contribute 16 points, both ejected early in the fourth quarter.
China, led by Chen Nan's 23 points, was outrebounded 32-19.
China and Czech Republic both had one win against two losses in group B while the Chinese team will play a crucial game with New Zealand in the next round on Friday.
"The match against New Zealand is very important for us," said Chinese head coach Gong Luming. "If we win, we will most likely secure a berth in the quarter-finals."
Twelve teams are competing in two preliminary groups in a round-robin format with top four finishers from each group to qualify for the quarter-finals.
(Xinhua News Agency August 18, 2004)