China opens ACQ campaign with victory over Japan

Zhou Peng led China to a big win against Japan. FIBA/SBP
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--China went off to a good start in its campaign in the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers after trouncing Japan, 66-57, at the start of the Angeles bubble of the third window at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center.

Despite showing signs of rustiness as the team only played in the ACQ for the first time due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chinese side made its Japanese opponent miss NBA players Yuta Watanabe and Rui Hachimura more with a solid defensive effort.

China slowed Japan down in the first half, holding them to only 20 points including eight in the second quarter.

China then broke away early in the second half, stretching its lead to 22, 57-35, with 8:17 remaining in the fourth period.

Japan came alive midway through the fourth as a barrage of triples sparked a 16-1 run to cut the lead down to seven, 58-51, with 4:13 to play.

But China finally broke free from Japan after responding with a 6-0 run that upped the lead back to 13, 64-51, with 1:47 to go as Japan struggled down the stretch.

Zhou Peng led China with 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting, one rebound and two assist.

Shen Zijie added 11 points on 3-of-5 field goals, five rebounds, one assist, one steal, and one block.

Makoto Hiejima and Kosuke Kanamaru each tallied 12 markers for Japan, which fell to 1-1 in Group B play.

Gavin Edwards had a quiet eight points, six rebounds, three assists, two steals, and one block before fouling out in his debut as Japan's new naturalized player.

China won despite committing 19 turnovers as it held Japan to only 33.9 percent shooting.

Box Scores:

China 66-Zhou 16, Shen 11, Hu 6, Ren 6, J. Zhao 6, Xu 6, Wu 4, Lu 4, Y. Zhao 4, Zhang 3, Wang 0, Liu 0

Japan 57-Hiejima 12, Kanamaru 12, Harimoto 11, Edwards 8, Sh. Ando 6, Watanabe 3, Vendrame 2, J. Takeuchi 2, Schafer 1, Togashi 0, Se. Ando 0, K. Takeuchi 0

Quarterscores: 20-12, 32-20, 50-35, 66-57

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