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China clinch Group E top seed with win over Chinese Taipei
Once again, young big man Hu Jinqiu was at the vanguard of China’s attack, leading five Chinese players in double-figures as coach Li Nan’s wards clinched the top spot in Group E. It was a nip-and-tuck affair with neither team leading by more than 9 points. In the end, however, China proved steadier in the endgame to book their fourth win in five outings.
Turning Point: Taipei last threatened when 2016 SBL MVP Chou Yi-Hsiang tied the count, 78-all, with 4:36 left in the game. Coach Li’s squad then unfurled a 9-3 spurt that gave them just enough cushion to preserve the 5-point win. Aside from Hu, perimeter players Cui Jinming and Fang Shuo also came up big in crunch time.
Stats Don't Lie: Taipei were able to stick close to China thanks to their transition scoring and inside forays. What did them in, however, were terrible three-point shooting and turnovers. As a team, coach Yan Jia-Hwa’s wards hit just 3-of-10 three-pointers and turned the ball over 21 times.
Game Hero: Hu stood tall anew for China. The 18-year-old tower of power hit all but two of his field goals and all ten of his free throws to finish with 24 points. He also grabbed 11 rebounds, handed out 3 assists, got 4 steals and blocked 1 shot. Given the way he has been playing, Hu may be the next big thing from China.
The Bottom Line: This result puts China on top of Group E with Jordan, Chinese Taipei and India shuffling themselves in the next three spots. This means coach Li will avoid Quarter-Final clash with either Iran or Korea. As for Chinese Taipei, coach Yan’s team received an additional blow when Liu Cheng was rushed to the ambulance after he was fouled while going up for a lay-up and his head hit the floor. If Liu will be sidelined, Chinese Taipei’s chances of winning in the Quarter-Finals will nosedive.