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Friendship the winner

By Xu Jingxi in Guangzhou | China Daily | Updated: 2017-06-21 07:44

Victory over India may have been all important for Chinese basketball fans on Sunday, but the slogan of the 2017 BRICS Games' - "Friendship comes first" - still shone through in Guanghzhou, Guangdong province.

Revenge was Team China's goal following last year's stunning loss to its regional rival at the FIBA Asia Challenge, but the integrative spirit of the Games was epitomized during one worrying moment for India's Vishesh Bhriguvanshi.

The shooting guard crashed to the floor and curled up in pain, sparking instant concern from both squads.

With no doctor on India's bench, Bhriguvanshi's teammate Amjyot Singh ran over to Team China coach Du Feng to ask for help.

China's doctor quickly came to the rescue and Bhriguvanshi was stretchered off the court and sent to hospital for further treatment.

Chinese sports officials visited the player on Monday to check on his condition.

Bhriguvanshi and his teammates expressed their gratitude, and the Indian coach said they were given a "very nice reception" and had been shown "nothing but the utmost courtesy," cementing the genuine friendship between the BRIC countries.

Singh led India with 26 points but couldn't prevent China from romping to a 97-57 first-round victory.

The Indian star blamed injuries and a lack of preparation for his team's thrashing.

"We had only about 15 days of training camp before we came to Guangzhou," Singh told China Daily.

"Five of our players got hurt tonight. They were injured before, and the injuries just grew worse here. We don't have good facilities back home."

India is considered a rising force in Asian basketball after stunning China 70-64 at the FIBA Asia Challenge and defeating the regional powerhouse at the 2014 FIBA Asia Cup.

In 2015, Satnam Singh Bhamara made front-page news in India by becoming the first player from his country to be selected in the NBA draft.

Still, basketball lags far behind cricket and soccer in India - as evidenced by the absence of a physiotherapist on the Indian bench during the BRICS Games tournament.

Meanwhile, Team China coach Du declared the result "satisfying", with many players who flopped in last year's loss, such as Hu Jinqiu, Zhao Yanhao and Cui Jinming, delivering strong performances in the rematch.

"China has really improved a lot, both inside and outside the key," said Singh.

"Their shooting percentage was very good. Their driving was more powerful and they're playing with more focus."

The game marked the debut of China's Team Blue. The brainchild of new CBA president Yao Ming, China now has two national teams: Du's Team Blue and Team Red, coached by Li Nan.

The two teams will play in different international competitions before they merge into one in 2019 to prepare for the World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

"Chinese men's basketball is having a hard time in Asia these years, with too many unstable performances," said Du.

"It's a big challenge for me to work as the national team's coach, but I will try my best to see if I can help young hopefuls to grow.

"It is good to have two teams so that we can learn from each other while also competing against each other.

"My players and I are honored to participate in the BRICS Games. This experience will help us to discover where we need to improve through playing against strong competitors."

Brazil is absent from the tournament, but the other BRICS nations - China, Russia, India and South Africa - entered men's teams in the competition.


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