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Players to blame for China's defeat by Iran
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Losing in the final by 18 points; losing the title at home; scoring only 10 points in the 1st quarter, 25 points in the first half. Enough already; don't rub salt in the wound. The match has gone down as the most humiliating defeat since China first entered the Asian Basketball Championships in 1975.

Putting aside the disastrous loss in the final, China's entire performance during the championships failed to live up to expectations. To be frank, they wouldn't have deserved the title even if they had won it.

At the post-match press conference, head coach Guo Shiqiang said, "I, as head coach, am responsible for the defeat. Players and assistant coaches don't have any responsibility."

It was a courageous thing for Guo to say so. But is it true? Can all the problems be resolved by replacing Guo with a new coach?

True, Guo lacks the experience to lead a national team and did not demonstrate enough flexibility during the match. But when all is said and done it is the players who are on the court. What can a coach do if his players do not set out seriously to win the match?

It was the players' attitudes that cost China its title dream. The Chinese players are overconfident and less motivated than most of their rivals. China, even without their star center Yao Ming, should be able to beat most Asian teams with an under-par performance. But they need to go all out to win when facing teams such as South Korea, Iran or Lebanon.

In fact, China didn't face a real challenge until they beat Lebanon by a narrow 4 points in the semi-final; and that win, according to Dragan Raca, head coach of Lebanon, was due to the referee's assistance.

"Everybody saw the referee helped them win," said Raca. "China are such a strong team and they have the ability to win; they do not need a referee to help them. It was an important match for us because making the final means the chance to go to the World Championships," said Raca, in a harsh attack on the referees at the post-match press conference.

It's unusual to see defending champions playing the role of challenger in the final. But this was obviously the case in Sunday's game. Iran were more motivated and more prepared and went all out to claim the trophy.

China collapsed in the face of Iran's suffocating defense and managed a mere 25 points in the first half. They cut the deficit to 53-36 with an 8-0 spurt near the end of the third quarter, but the mountain was too high to climb. Finals are not the occasion to correct mistakes.

With seconds to go in the final, fans began to throw bottles and trash on to the court to express their fury, while many others had already left the stadium.

(China.org.cn by Xiang Bin, August 18, 2009)


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