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China beats Angola in Olympic basketball warm-up tourney
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China collected the best morale-boosting victory so far before the start of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, beating Angola 83-74 at the Diamond Cup men's basketball competition in Nanjing on Tuesday.

Pivot Yao Ming had his best match since foot surgery four months ago, scoring 21 points and grabbing five rebounds to give China the hope to advance from a Death Group at the Games.

China was grouped in B with Spain, Greece, the United States, Germany and Angola in the preliminary round of the basketball competition, which set off on August 10.

"It's a tough game. Angola (players) were very explosive and in good conditions. Don't look down upon them as we beat them by nine points," China's head coach Jonas Kazlauskas said.

The victory over Angola, which beat China 72-71 at the Stankovic Cup on July 19, was the most intense contest for China among its 13 warm-ups this summer.

Guard Liu Wei, who was absent for a shoulder strain in the latest loss to Angola, had 18 points, six assists and five rebounds, while Wang Shipeng adding 13 points. New Jersey Nets' forward Yi Jianlian had 11 points and six rebounds for China.

Olimpio Cipriano had 24 points while Joaquim Gomes 21 points and eight rebounds for Angola.

"We played a better match tonight, but the results were not what we had expected. We played more like a team than we did at the Stankovic Cup. The loss won't take us down as we have three more warm-ups to go. We'll learn from the mistakes," Gomes said.

Eduardo Mingas' jumper in the paint made it 70-67 with 3:44 minutes to go. Liu Wei's 3-pointer extended China's lead again one minute later.

Cipriano closed it again on a reversed layup at 76-72 with 1:27 minutes left on the clock, but he committed a unsportsman foul on Sun Yue. China scored three points on the following possession.

"Yao had not recovered 100 per cent from his injury, but our big guys gave a great defensive match," said. "Wang Zhizhi did a good job on defence, much better than last match (against Angola). If we could do these at the Olympics, we'll go longer," Kazlauskas added.

(Xinhua News Agency July 30, 2008)

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