25 August, 2023
10 September
15 Qi Zhou (CHN)
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Qualified Team Focus - China: With Djordjevic in charge, Chinese look for bounceback

MIES (Switzerland) - The draw for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023, presented by Wanda, will be held in Manila, Philippines, on April 29. It is now time to meet the 32 teams that try to become World Champions in a few months.

Here is the number 27 team in the FIBA World Ranking Men, presented by Nike, 16-time FIBA Asia Cup champions China.

How did they qualify

China came into the Asian Qualifiers on a major low having slumped to 24th place of 32 teams at the home 2019 World Cup and then missing the Tokyo Olympics held in 2021.

Due to the on-going Covid-19 pandemic, China did not play any of the Asian Qualifiers on home soil but then-head coach Du Feng was able to form a strong core with eight players appearing in at least seven of the first 10 games. And the Chinese locked up their ticket to the World Cup with one window spare.

Sasha Djordjevic coaching for Serbia at the 2019 World Cup in China

Shortly after that, the Chinese federation announced that Serbian Sasha Djordjevic would take over the head coaching reins from Du for the final window plus the summer showcase in Indonesia, Japan and the Philippines.

The Chinese started the campaign in Japan with two games against the Japanese, grabbing two wins - 79-63 and 106-73. Guo Ailun and Zhou Qi both had 24 points in the first game and Zhao Rui drained 6 three-pointers for 27 points in the second game.

China's June/July 2022 games were played in Melbourne and Du's men dropped both games against Australia and walloped Chinese Taipei by 36 and 41 points. The first game against Australia saw China come back from 16 points down to tie it before they ran out of steam and lost 76-69.

China's tournament struggles continued at the FIBA Asia Cup 2022 in July in Indonesia where they lost to Korea in the group stage and then fell to Lebanon in the Quarter-Finals to finish eighth - the country's worst showing since 2007.

The Chinese could not really gain much momentum in the first window of the Second Round as they beat Kazakhstan by 12 points but needed overtime to defeat Bahrain 80-67.

Things were looking up in November 2022 with Wang Zhelin picking up 23 points in a strong 81-72 win in Iran and then the big man collected 27 points and 14 rebounds in the victory against Bahrain.

Coach Djordjevic will have two final Asian Qualifiers in February 2023 - at home in Hong Kong against Kazakhstan and Iran - to get an idea of what he can expect from his team for the World Cup.

Best result at the World Cup

China will be competing at the World Cup for the 10th time including the fifth tournament in the last six editions. China's best performance came in 1994 when they reached the Quarter-Final Round.

The Asians beat Brazil and Spain in the Preliminary Round to reach the Quarter-Final Round. The Asians ended up losing to Croatia, Greece and Canada in Group II and finished in eighth place - the country’s best-ever showing.

China at 1994 World Cup

Last World Cup appearances

In 2002, China defeated Algeria for their only win and finished 12th. Four years later, the Asians beat Senegal and Slovenia in the final two group games to reach the Round of 16 but bowed out against Greece.

In 2010, China's win over Puerto Rico was enough to get out of the first round but they were again knocked out in the Round of 16 - this time at the hands of Lithuania - and finished 16th.

The Chinese failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup and then hosted the world in 2019. The team struggled though, beating Cote d'Ivoire but then losing to Poland and Venezuela to head to the 17th-32nd Classification. China beat Korea but lost to Nigeria and ended up in 24th.

Players to watch

Mid-June, a preliminary roster was announced.

Eighteen players have been summoned to a training camp by China as the Far East giants begin their preparations for the FIBA Basketball World Cup.

Twin towers Zhou Qi and Wang Zhelin, along with Zhou Peng, Zhao Rui and Sun Minghui are headline names in the group.