Team China has finished too strong for the CPA Australia NBL All-Australian Team coming from behind to win 89-75 in Game 2 of the three-match tour of China in Jilin.
The NBL All-Australian Team was looking to level the three-game series on the CPA Australia Tour of China after the hosts claimed the 68-66 Game 1 victory in Beijing on Wednesday night, and looked capable of doing so through three quarters.
The preparations were far from ideal with weather causing the team to take a seven-hour train trip from Beijing to north eastern China to play in Jilin meaning they didn’t get a training session in between games.
But the Australian team got rolling during the second quarter on the back of a string of Daniel Kickert three-pointers where he nailed three in a three-minute stretch.
That helped the NBL representative team to a 40-33 half-time advantage and they still led by two points heading into the fourth.
But there Team China dominated with 30 points to 14 to win by 14 points to take an unassailable two-nil lead in the series.
Kickert was again the standout for the NBL All-Australian Team scoring 20 points to go with four rebounds.
David Barlow contributed 12 points, four rebounds and four steals with Jerome Randle adding 10 points and four assists.
Lucas Walker also had seven points and six boards, and Nick Kay seven points, five rebounds and three assists.
NBL All-Australian coach Rob Beveridge couldn’t fault the effort again of his team.
“Overall we played a very, very good game tonight. We know that China is a very good team and they were probably too good for us in the end. But I felt that we controlled the game for most of it,” Beveridge said.
“We had some breakdowns, but overall I was happy with how we played the game. We are a very good shooting team and we shot the ball well in the first half, but then a little bit of fatigue may have taken over. But I was very happy with our shot selection and the fight that we showed. We just did not give in.”
The major difference ended up being the inclusion of point guard Guo Ailun and 7’1, 145kg monster Han Dejun as the pair led Team China to the victory.
Guo finished with 18 points and three assists for Team China with Han adding 11 points, eight rebounds and four assists.
Ren Junfei also scored 13 points, Li Gen 12, Hu Jinqiu 11 and Wu Qian 10.
Team China opened an 8-4 lead halfway through the opening quarter but a three from Barlow, strong offensive board, put back and the extra from Walker and three quick points from Mitch McCarron saw the All-Australian unit just one down by quarter-time.
Despite China scoring first in the second period, the NBL team soon took over.
Kickert nailed his first triple with 5:25 on the clock in the half. He hit a second shortly after and then a third with 2:45 remaining to put the All-Australians up by five.
Barlow got in on the act too from long range and Jeremy Kendle scored last in the half to see the visitors lead impressively 40-33.
The NBL All-Australian team still led by six following a Todd Blanchfield three with six left in the third quarter, but things were tightening up as China got some flow going and Australia went cold.
The Australians made just three field goals in the last five minutes of the quarter, two baskets to Tom Jervis and a triple to Barlow. But they still managed to lead by two points despite the best efforts of Guo and Han.
China came out firing with the first four points of the fourth term, but the All-Australians responded through Kickert to again lead 65-63. But an 8-0 run for China with Guo and Han at the centre of it turned the tide for good.
The hosts responded to Barlow’s three with eight more straight points ended up winning by 14.
The third and final game of the CPA Australia Tour of China will take place in Dongguan on Sunday night at 9.30pm AEDT.
CPA AUSTRALIA NBL ALL-AUSTRALIAN TEAM 75 (Daniel Kickert 20, David Barlow 12, Jerome Randle 10)
TEAM CHINA 89 (Guo Ailun 18, Ren Junfei 13, Li Gen 12)