China settles for fifth place in FIBA Asia championshipsBy Celest R. Flores
MANILA, Philippines — Erstwhile Asian champion China salvaged fifth place as it disposed of Qatar, 96-85, Sunday in the 27th FIBA Asia men’s championships at the Mall of Asia Arena.
It is the worst finish of China, 15-time gold medalists, in the tournament since placing 10th in the 2007 version in Tokushima, Japan.
Guo Ailun, this time, led the Chinese with 21 points off the bench as he made all but two of his 10 shots while registering five dimes.
Wang Shipeng added 14, Wang Zhizhi and Yi Jianlian, 13 and 12, in that order, while Zhu Fangyu 10 points for China, which was in control most of the game.
China widened its gap with a 12-0 blast to start the third quarter, 58-40, but Qatar still hung around and trimmed the deficit down to double digits several times in the payoff period.
There was a tense moment late in the game when Guo went down hard along with Mohd Mahamed before latter kicked Guo in the head.
Mohamed, who finished with 13 points, was called for an unsportsmanlike foul before he was assisted to the bench, complaining of pain on his right hand.
Mansour Elhadry and Baker Mohammed sizzled with 23 and 22 points, respectively, for Qatar, which exited the tournament with a sixth place finish.
The 38-year-old veteran Yasseen Musa did not play.