China win Asia title, qualify for Olympics

 04 Oct 2015 - 10:23

China win Asia title, qualify for Olympics

Hong Kong: China's men beat the Philippines 78-67 in the FIBA Asia Championship final before an ecstatic 7,000-strong capacity home crowd in Changsha late on Saturday to secure a place at the 2016 Olympics.

With Guo Ailun (19 points, 6 rebounds), ex-NBA player Yi Jianlian (11 points, 15 rebounds) and the giant 2.17-metre (7ft 1in) 19-year-old Zhou Qi (16 points, 7 rebounds) controlling the match, Gong Luming's team completed their 11th straight victory of an unbeaten tournament.

The Philippines, Iran and Japan, meanwhile, advance to the FIBA Olympic qualifying tournaments where they will have another shot at reaching Rio. 

Iran beat Japan 69-63 earlier Saturday to take the bronze medal.

China's 27-year-old Yi was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player after averaging 16.7 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game while shooting 52.9 percent from the field.

Yi headlined the tournament's All-Star team selections, which also included his pivotal China team-mates Guo and Zhou as well as the Philippines' Jayson Castro and Iran's 32-year-old captain Mohammad Samad Nikkhah Bahrami, who scored a tournament-high 35 points in the victory over Japan.

The fast-starting Philippines jumped out to a 15-10 lead after just four minutes but with Zhou leading the charge, China reeled off 12 unanswered points as their towering size prevented the "Gilas Pilipinas" from attacking the rim and reduced them to shooting, often in vain, from three-point range.

China led 46-35 at half-time and though the Philippines briefly rallied, cutting the deficit to eight points, the Chinese were never threatened.

The Philippines' former NBA player Andray Blatche was their top scorer with 17 points but with his team only being able to hit six of their 24 attempts from three-point range, China were able to control the ball and the clock in the fourth quarter to ease to victory.