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Star-less China down Australia again
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China defeated a weakened Aussie side 74-61 in Liaoning province yesterday. [CFP]

China's young new head coach Guo Shiqiang overcame the loss of NBA stars Yao Ming and Yi Jianlian to continue his brilliant start with a second straight victory against Australia yesterday.

China defeated a weakened Aussie side 74-61 in Liaoning province, two days after Guo's debut win against the Aussies in Ningbo, Zhejiang province.

Zhu Fangyu led the Chinese team with 14 points yesterday while Wang Zhizhi and Li Xiaoxu added 13 apiece.

China's suffocating defense in the first half restricted Australia to just 20 points, their worst first-half record in international competition.

"It's a win of defense," said coach Guo. "We knew them better after the first match and played much better defense, especially in the first half."

Australia were without NBA stars Andrew Bogut and Patrick Mills while New Jersey Nets power forward Yi and the injured center Yao were absent for China.

Versatile guard Sun Yue, fresh from the newly-crowned NBA champions Los Angles Lakers, failed to impress despite a year in the world's best league, chipping in with just three points.

Former NBA player Wang was the pivotal role behind the two victories, starring with a team-high 20 points and six steals in 27 minutes in their first match on Sunday.

Apart from solid performances from veterans, teenager Li Xiaoxu shone to give the coach more choices in future.

Li, 19, who replaced Yao as starting center, showed his potential in the first match with 9 points and 4 rebounds in 33 minutes.

The rising star from Liaoning backed it up yesterday with 13 points and nine rebounds.

He is almost certain to earn a spot as a backup power forward after Yao and Yi return.

"He did a very good job in the past two games," said Guo, also from Liaoning.

"He did not show any pressure playing on home soil. Home fans give us huge support and I appreciate that."

(China Daily July 1, 2009)

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