Team China routed Crvena Zvezda Saturday afternoon by 71-108 in the 2011 Euroleague Basketball Nike International Junior Tournament to notch their only win of the competition and finish with the same 1-2 record as the Serbian squad in Group B, but two spots ahead, in second place. Guo Ailun paced the winners with 22 points, while Ju Mingxin added 17 and Wang Zirui another 16. Crvena Zvezda was led by Andrija Bojic, with 14 points, and Ivan Marinkovic, who added 13.
Both teams started aggressively, with tough screens, sharp cuts to the basket and relentless defense. Team China went ahead for the first time on a deep triple by Gu Quan that was promptly answered by an inspired Bojic, as the midway point was reached at an even 10-10 score. But then the Chinese squad erupted on a 4-17 run, highlighted by a Zhu Xuhang triple and a couple twisting layups by Ailun, entering the second quarter at an 18-30 advantage.
Crvena Zvezda cut the lead to 8 after an Aleksandar Lilic triple, but Mingxin answered tor Team China, and a spectacular Xuhang block of an Marinkovic close-range shot, led to a string of 7 unanswered points to go up 28-43 midway through the period. Crvena Zvezda tried to disrupt Team China with a full-court press, but Ailun still managed to produce close-range looks for himself and his teammates and the Serb squad struggled to keep Team China off the boards. Wang Zirui then hit consecutive triples, and the Asian side reached halftime with a comfortable lead, 39-59.
Crvena Zvezda worked to get Marinkovic involved after the break, and the center responded with two straight inside buckets and a leaping block to fuel his team's 6-2 start to the third quarter. But another corner triple by Zuhang derailed the comeback train. Radonjic took a chip off a 20-point deficit with his own shot beyond the arc, but Team China continued manufacture high-percentage baskets off the offensive glass, entering the final quarter with a 57-74 lead.
A three-point play by Mingxin to start the final period did not deter Crvena Zvezda, but Team China had all the answers. Ailun scored on a gorgeous coast-to-coast run and dunked off a steal to extend the lead to 61-87 with 6 minutes left in the ballgame. With the Asian squad in control, Crvena Zvezda resorted to one-on-one play in an attempt to break down their tough perimeter defense. Andrej Smiljanic finally drained a long-ranger, but Team China piled on points relentlessly, gaining a blowout win.
Saturday, May 7, 2011