Greece rolls past China in Olympic basketball qualifying tournament

Chinese player Wu Qian (Top) competes in the Group A game against Greece at the Olympic basketball qualifying tournament in Victoria, Canada on July 1, 2021. (Photo: Xinhua)

OTTAWA -- Greece's men's basketball team sailed to a 105-80 victory over China in the Olympic qualifying tournament in Victoria, Canada on Thursday, keeping alive their hopes of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympic Games and knocking China out of the competition.

Greece, who are sixth in the world rankings, shot 55.2 percent from the field, and their 12 three-pointers doubled China's tally.

Five Greek players reached double figures, led by Giannoulis Larentzakis' 21 points. Kostas Sloukas bagged 14 points, while Leonidas Kaselakis and Konstantinos Mitoglou had 12 apiece.

As both sides had lost to Canada in previous matches, Thursday's head-to-head had a big say on their quest for an Olympic ticket.

Greece went hot from the start, racing ahead 10-3 en route to a 20-point advantage at half-time.

"We didn't fully prepare for this game at the start, and thought it would be an easy one to handle. They showed great competitiveness in defense, and we failed to make response on the offensive end, thus digging a big hole in the first quarter," China head coach Du Feng told a press conference.

Chinese players buckled up defense after the intermission and outscored their opponents 27-24 in the third quarter.

However, they were unable to put on further resistance afterwards, and will not feature at an Olympic Games for the first time since 1984.

Hu Mingxuan led China's scoring with 16 points. Zhou Qi had a double-double of 15 points and 10 boards. Wu Qian added 14 points.

"It's a huge pity that our campaign is over," said Du. "We are one of the youngest teams in this tournament, but we can find some shining points from these young players at a certain stage during the games."

Winners from the four Olympic qualifying tournaments will qualify for the Tokyo Games as the tournaments are underway in Victoria, the Serbian capital of Belgrade, Kaunas in Lithuania, and Croatia's Split.

Greece joins Canada to advance from Group A, and will take on Group B's top finisher Turkey in Saturday's semifinal.