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Will Korea make it back-to-back wins at China's expense?
GOYANG (FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers) - Korea are aiming for a 2-game sweep of the first window of the Asian Qualifiers, but age-old rivals China are standing in the way.
Korea made the headlines on Day 1 of the Asian Qualifiers when they upended New Zealand in the Tall Blacks' own backyard of Wellington, and that means coach Hur Jae's wards will enter Day 3 as the favorites against a Chinese team devoid of most of their big name stars.
Coach Li Nan, however, is hoping that his squad will be up to the task of pulling the rug from under the Koreans.
"We are missing some main players, so our goal is to see if our current players can play at a higher level," said coach Li. "Right now, it seems Korea has been back on the track, so I asked our players to play with high speed, since this is a very good opportunity play such a good team."
That will be easier said than done, though, what with Korea firing on all cylinders against New Zealand and seemingly hell-bent on performing even better in front of their home crowd.
Key Matchups: Jeon JunBeom came up huge for Korea on Day 1, splashing 6 triples on his way to recording 22 points. He will certainly be a marked man in this matchup with the Chinese, and coach Li is expected to charge CBA Most Valuable Player Ding Yanyuhang with the task of putting the clamps on Jeon. Ding, for his part, did not need to play much in China's blowout win over Hong Kong, but one can expect that the 2.00m forward will be used much more intensely against the hot-shooting Koreans.
Key Stats: Rebounding was a huge factor for China's dominance of Hong Kong on Day 1. The Chinese ruled the battle of the boards, 54-28, thanks mainly to Wang Zhelin's 11 rebounds and three others with 6 rebounds or more. It will be much tougher to repeat that feat against Korea, which has several solid big men manning the inside like Oh SeKeun, Kim JongKyu and Lee JongHyun. The pressure will be on Wang along with Dong Hanlin, Shen Zijie and Abudushalamu Abudurexiti to keep Korea's potent frontline from getting a lion's share of the rebounds.