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Inspired New Zealand stun China in comeback road victory
DONGGUAN (FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers) - A brilliant last quarter inspired New Zealand to a memorable comeback road victory over China in the Asian Qualifiers second window on Friday.
The Tall Blacks trailed by three points entering the last quarter but outscored their stunned opponents 27-15 in the fourth to storm home to victory and inflict China’s first loss of the Asian Qualifiers. The 82-73 triumph has leapfrogged New Zealand to the top of Group A.
The Tall Blacks used suffocating defense to transform the game as they harassed a nervous China into numerous late turnovers. The visitors were brilliantly led in the backcourt by Tai and Corey Webster, who each scored 18 points. Star center Yi Jianlian was heroic for China with 37 points, including a herculean first-half where he appeared to be the difference between the teams.
The sharp-shooting Tall Blacks continued their hot form from beyond the arc and their strategy of letting China shoot threes worked as the hosts finished a woeful 6-of-22.
Buoyed by their capacity crowd, China appeared set on numerous occasions to blow the game open but a gusty New Zealand resisted the punches during the see-sawing contest. Jianlian utterly dominated the first-half with 24 points, including 3-of-7 from deep, but China led only by one point at the long break.
The momentum swung wickedly in a pulsating second half but the gallant Tall Blacks produced huge defensive plays down the stretch to thwart China. Tai Webster stepped up with several big baskets to help deliver one of the sweetest victories for the Tall Blacks in an undoubted statement win.
New Zealand play Korea on Monday, while China face winless Hong Kong.