Day 4 Men: ITA 89 - CHN 52
Italy beats China into quarterfinals
ATHENS - Putting consecutive defeats behind it, Italy took care of business and reached the Mens Olympic Basketball quarterfinals with a commanding 89-52 victory over China on Saturday at Helliniko Indoor Arena.
Italy is 2-2 in Group A, good for third place pending the fifth and final preliminary games on Monday. In any tie scenario, Italy will finish fourth or better due to better cumulative victory margins among the teams with which it can potentially share the same record.
China fell to 1-3 and in order to survive must defeat world champion Serbia and Montenegro (1-3) on Monday. If Italy loses to Argentina and New Zealand beats Spain on Monday, even a victory will not suffice for the Chinese due to tiebreakers.
Giacomo GALANDA (ITA) put on a shooting display with six 3-point strikes en route to 22 points, tops among all scorers. Roberto CHIACIG ruled inside to the tune of 14 points, while Michele MIAN added 10. Gianmarco POZZECCO also came off the bench for 10 points and dished a tournament-high 12 assists.
YAO Ming and LI Nan led China with nine points each.
Italy took control early as Massimo BULLERI opened the game with a shot from the arc and GALANDA hit two in a row shortly thereafter for an 11-5 lead. YAOs only basket of the quarter helped China pull within 15-11, but then Italy finished the quarter with a 7-0 run that included another 3-pointer by Matteo SORAGNA and left a 22-11 scoreboard after 10 minutes.
POZZECCO and center Roberto CHIACIG formed a potent duo of the bench in the second quarter, sharing the ball and 11 points while Italys advantage ballooned to 37-18. A 3-pointer by ZHU Fangyu and YAOs second basket trimmed the difference to 44-26 at the half.
The third quarter saw more of the same, specifically a flurry of 3-pointers by the Italians: GALANDAs fourth, one by Luca GARRI and a pair for Gianluca BASILE. China had gotten itself within 14 points of the lead twice, but when POZZECCO drove for a layup to end the third quarter, the margin was 60-39.
The fourth quarter didnt seem to mean much, but it will to New Zealand if both it and China win on Sunday while Italy loses. They would end up in a three-way tie and looking at point differences to break it. The 36 points by which China lost to Italy would be added to the cumulative scores between the three teams and allow New Zealand to move ahead of China.
Giacomo GALANDA, center (ITA)
On the game:
"Everything worked very well for us. We played perfect defense and we double-teamed and stopped YAO. In offense we shot the ball with high percentages and we played an open game which is our style of play. Now we have to be concetrated against Argentina, because if we win we 'll have the chance to take the second place of the our group."
Gianluca BASILE, guard (ITA)
On the game:
"We made everything right tonight. It's been a long time since we 've played so perfect. If we continue in the same way, I am very confident that we can achieve something special in this tournament."
Gianmarco POZZECCO, guard (ITA)
On the game:
"It's my first time in the Olympics and it's been a great experience so far. Today we had to win and as such we gave it evrything we had. We played in manner which enabled us to take advantage of the mistakes the Chinese team made. Personally, it was great that our victory occured with such a big difference in the score."
|Press conference quotes:|
MENKE Batere, Center (CHN)
"It was an important game for us, and we had prepared for it in practice for the last two days, but we lost control in the beginning and we gave them a lot of three-pointers."
Massimo BULLERI, Guard (ITA)
"The game was quite successful for us. It went just the way we expected. We wanted to keep YAO Ming under control, as he is one of the strongest players in this tournament, and we did."
Del HARRIS, Head Coach (CHN)
On the game and Basketball in China:
"There's not much to say about the game. We were simply overwhelmed. We were not able to pass, catch, get our offense going or play defense, either man to man or zone. The reason we didn't do well in this tournament is certainly not that we prepared only for two months. Actually, the players started with (assistant coach) Jonas KAZLAUSKAS from March, so we're talking about five months. They would be enough if we had more experienced players. We have only one NBA player, and no players competing in Europe. The level of the Chinese league is not comparable with the level of European leagues at this point. It will take not months, but years for China to achieve what European countries did in 40 years time. Athleticism is another sector China is still behind the rest of the teams."
On the difference between the NBA and the international game:
"The international game is one thing, the NBA is another. Of the NBA's 30 teams, 15 could come here and win every game, or 70% of the games if playing by the international rules. It's naive to believe that teams like Lithuania, Argentina, or Italy could come to the NBA, play their game and win. Now, if the United States team is having problems at this tournament, the reason is that you can't expect to take a bunch of players and make a team in 8-10 days' time. If Larry BROWN had six weeks to prepare, you'd see a different team here. But given the situation, team USA can't expect to have an easy time as, say, in 1992 in Barcelona."
Carlo RECALCATI, Head Coach (ITA)
"We tried to avoid passes to YAO Ming. My players understood our philosophy, put it into practice and played very well in defense. I am pleased with the job Luca GARRI did on YAO. He is a flexible player, who can play forward and also center. We knew China and YAO from a tournament we played there two years ago. China has great potential but needs time to built the team around YAO. This tournament was for them just the first step on the way to Beijing. I believe that in the next four years, if they don't close the gap to the other countries, they will at least bridge a part of it.
Our main goal coming here was to reach the quarterfinals, and I'm glad we did. We'll wait and see which team we're playing. Every team has its strong and weak points."
Source: Athens news service