MANILA, Philippines – Korea leaned on a near-flawless game by forward Joo-sung Kim to pull off a 63-59 upset over defending champion China in Group C of the 27th FIBA-Asia men’s championship Thursday night at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The six-foot-eight Kim hardly missed as he went six-of-seven from the field, hitting all of his six shots from the two-point area en route to a team-high 15 points.
“We practiced a lot for this game. China got taller guys than our team. We’re happy because we overcame China’s height,” said Korea’s coach Jae Hak Yoo.
China’s star big man Yi Jianlian recorded a double-double with 23 points and 10 rebounds and single-handedly carried his team back in the game late after Korea threatened to blow the game open.
“He’s a good player. He’s tall and fast,” Kim said on Yi.
Down two, Zhou Peng muffed a gimme before Sungmin Cho gave Korea a four-point cushion 61-57 at the stripe with only 21.5 seconds remaining.
Young point guard Xiaoyu Liu scored on a quick two in the ensuing play plus the foul but missed the crucial free throw as Korea’s Donggeun Yang clinched the game on two free throws with only 13 ticks left.
Korea tries to go for another stunner when it faces Iran Friday while China looks to vent its ire on listless Malaysia, who got whipped by Iran, 25-115, in the opener.