China Kashgar overpower Al Riyadi to annex Champions Cup title
CHENZHOU (FIBA Asia Champions Cup 2016) – The size and firepower of China Kashgar proved to be too much for Al Riyadi in the Final of the FIBA Asia Champions Cup 2016 in Chenzhou, China. The hosts leaned on their terrific trio of Andray Blatche, Zhou Qi and Darius Adams to overpower the fancied Lebanese, 96-88.
Prolific Al Riyadi import Dewarwick Spencer picked the worst time to have shooting struggles as he made just 7 of his 20 field goal attempts to finish with 19 points. His production was cancelled out by China’s Darius Adams, who also tallied 19 points to go along with 13 assists and 7 rebounds. Zhou Qi was solid in the middle for the home team with 9 rebounds, 2 blocked shots and 1 steal, while tall wingmen Makan Kelanbaike and Abudushalamu Abudurexiti punctured the basket for 12 and 19 points respectively.
Al Riyadi came into this contest unbeaten, and their wins came in very dominant fashion. That did little to help them, though, as the Chinese were the aggressors early and often, leading by as many as 22 points. Coach Slobodan Subotic’s wards tried to mount a final rally in the fourth period, but it was too little, too late. Fadi El Khatib had 23 points to pace the losing side, which also drew 15 points from rising star Wael Arakji.
Turning Point: China were ahead, 48-40, at the halftime break, but it was by no means a comfortable lead, especially against a club as explosive as Al Riyadi. Aware of this, coach Li Qiuping’s boys came out with a lot of energy in the third period, outscoring the Lebanese, 17-6, in the first five minutes to erect a 19-point bulge, 65-46. It was at that point when Al Riyadi’s body language shifted, and it seemed like the wind was knocked out of them.
Stats Don't Lie: Firepower and depth were the calling cards of China Kashgar in the Final. Coach Li’s team shot a blistering 57.8% from the field, including hitting 12 triples — 4 from Makan and 3 from Blatche. China’s reserves also stepped up, with Zhou Qi, Mugeadaer Xirelijiang and Sun Tonglin combining for 20 of the club’s 22 bench points while Al Riyadi’s reserved scored a paltry 9.
Game Hero: Naturalized Filipino Andray Blatche was the epitome of China’s dominance in this match. The 2.11m former NBA player went 9-of-13 from the floor to score 22 points, but he also hauled down 8 rebounds, issued 2 assists and had one blocked shot for good measure. His counterparts from Al Riyadi — Ali Haidar and Alade Aminu — just had no answer.
The Bottom Line: China celebrate their first Champions Cup title since Beijing Hanwei brought home the trophy in 1998. This looks to mark a new era of dominance for the East Asian superpower, and it is certain to motivate coach Li’s players as they prepare for the coming 2016-2017 Chinese Basketball Association season. It continues to be a validation of the quality of Chinese hoops, especially after they sputtered in the FIBA Asia Challenge 2016. On the other end, it’s an unfortunate result for Al Riyadi, who looked every bit the best team in the field prior to this encounter. There are lessons to pick up from this experience, though, and they will use these in their 2016-2017 Lebanese Basketball League campaign at home.