06 - 21
August 2016
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Coach Gong Luming searching for ways to make China better

BEIJING (2016 Rio Olympics) - If there were were questions about the potential of China's national team and whether Gong Luming could bring the good times back after he was put in charge of the team for the 2015 Asia Championship, the players and coach provided one emphatic answer - YES!

After an early scare against Korea, the Chinese went from a canter to a gallop and blew away the opposition in an impressive title run to qualify for the Men's Olympic Basketball Tournament in Rio de Janeiro.

China, who suffered a Quarter-Final exit at the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship and missed out on the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup, showed in Changsha-Hunan that they are still a giant of Asia and have plenty of youngsters to pin their hopes on for the future. 

But Gong - showing his wisdom after many years in the game first as a player, and in recent times as a coach - isn't going to allow the team to rest on its laurels. He is looking for ways to make China better. The bulk of the title-winning side is likely to play in Rio de Janeiro, although there are never any guarantees to selection. What Gong has indicated is that there are going to be some new wrinkles to China's game on both ends of the floor. He wants his players to be ready to adapt to new tactics.

"A team is certainly to be constantly updated," he said. "Every year it should be. There are new developments, changed tactics, so we need the help of the (CBA) league to learn new styles of play, which is inevitable when it comes to developing as a team."

On the playing front, Gong has to be encouraged by the recent performances of his point guard, Guo Ailun of Liaoning in the CBA, a player who made the All-Star Five at the FIBA Asia Championship.

There were some concerns when Guo, best-known for his defensive prowess, had a dip in form on offense for the Liaoning Hunters over the last couple of weeks in 2015. During a six-game stretch in the CBA, Guo went ice cold. He connected on just four of 26 attempts from three-point land. His team nevertheless won five of the six games. Since that time, he has been a different player, like one that made a new year's resolution to sink his three-pointers. In a scintillating five-game run, he is a combined 20 of 29 from long range.

"I try not to think about it (the shooting), other than playing as hard as I can to help the team," Guo said.

Guo Ailun (CHN) at the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship

Guo Shiqiang, the demanding Liaoning coach who serves as an assistant on the national team, was asked about Guo after he hit three of his four three-balls and scored 32 points in a 108-96 triumph over Beijing on 8 January.

He smiled and said: "He has been very good the last few games."

The currently in-form Guo Ailun is the point guard that China will need to show up in Brazil.