One last chance to make it all right

Updated: 2011-08-09 08:40

By Sun Xiaochen (China Daily)

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Coming off a disappointing Continental Cup, Donewald's squad needs a quick turn-around ahead of the Asia Championship, reports from Guangzhou

They're not there yet. And they're running out of time. With the stench of seven losses in a row at the Stankovic Continental Cup still lingering, China's national basketball team is scrambling for answers with the FIBA Asia Championship looming in September.

China averaged just six assists a game while losing seven straight at the Continental Cup, wrapping things up with a 25-point loss to Russia on Monday that showcased an offense struggling to establish any semblance of chemistry.

Moreover, coach Bob Donewald remains positive heading into the FIBA event, where his team will try to finagle the lone Olympic berth that will be awarded.

Injuries have taken their toll, Donewald says.

"I didn't lose confidence (after the consecutive losses), because we can do it when we get our pieces back," he said of the loss to New Zealand at Guangzhou Tianhe stadium.

"(With these injuries) that cut off half of our team, of course it will be really hard. If (we're only missing a piece or two next month) we can survive a little bit better. Going through this hard time right now, the most important person on Team China is the doctor. We need him to work a miracle to get them back."

After an intense 10-week training regimen, several key players including veteran leader Wang Zhizhi, sharp-shooter Zhu Fangyu and rebounder Ding Jinhui were sidelined by injuries.

But spearheaded by former Washington Wizards' forward Yi Jianlian and swingman Wang Shipeng, the roster still seemed competitive enough to handle the lower-level opponents like the Russian Universiade squad and African champion Angola

No victories, however, were forthcoming.

Donewald stressed he hasn't shown his team's full strength or tactics, hoping to hinder other Asian teams' scouting.

But injuries and espionage aside, the team suffered from lackluster play from the guards as the offense struggled to play as a unit.

"They played too much one-on-one on offense, relying on Yi. (There weren't) any well-trained routines or teamwork started by guards in the game. I am really worried (whether Donewald can) get the team ready by September," said TV commentator Yu Jia.

Another veteran reporter, Yang Yi, echoed Yu on his micro-blog, saying he doubts "whether Donewald hid the team's true ability or (just has) nothing on hand".

After taking over in April of 2010, the 41-year-old Donewald built a mixed reputation.

He's renowned as an inspirational coach, but became notorious for his complaints to referees while leading the squad to the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games title and into the final 16 at the FIBA World Championship last summer.

Donewald knows his final test will be next month, and implied he will resign if his team doesn't win the tournament.

"Actually, I don't care about the results (so far)," he said. "It's good for us to going through this hard time right now. We will use it to get better.

"For me, I don't feel pressure. On Sept 25, either everything will end or I will continue," he said during the team's morning session on July 6.