China-Australia Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated August 01, 2012
Four years ago, a pre-Olympic warm-up pitted Australia's Andrew Bogut against China's Yao Ming. There will be no center rematch in London. Australia and China both go for their first victory at the 2012 Games on Thursday when they meet in Group B play. The Aussies won 67-55 on July 30, 2008, in Nanjing, China, just prior to the Beijing Games. Bogut scored nine points while Yao finished with 14 to lead the Chinese. While a rematch between the two would have been Thursday's marquee matchup, Bogut is recovering from surgery on a broken ankle and Yao retired from the NBA in 2011 following eight injury-plagued seasons. Prior to Australia's 82-70 loss to Spain on Tuesday, Bogut took to Twitter to defend himself against critics wondering why he's not in London to help the Boomers go for their first Olympic medal. "Amazed at the abusive tweets from people thinking I didn't want to go to the Olympics just because ...??? Yes, rather be on my couch. #morons" Without Bogut, coach Brett Brown has turned to David Andersen, Aleks Maric and Aron Baynes to fill the void. That trio averaged 19.0 points and 14.5 rebounds in losses to Spain and Brazil this week. Forward Joe Ingles has scored 27 points in the tournament - second to point guard Patty Mills' 31. Mills, though, has missed 13 of 14 from 3-point range. The Aussies are 8 for 46 from beyond the arc. Still, Australia appears to have a good shot at breaking into the win column, facing a China team it defeated 71-43 on Aug. 16 in a Olympic basketball test event at London Basketball Arena. Brown rested Mills, Maric, Ingles and forward Brad Newley in that contest. China coach Bob Donewald Jr. can't afford to rest anyone after his team dropped the first two games of preliminary play by a combined 35 points. The Chinese fell 73-54 to Russia on Tuesday. "I am disappointed by the way we played," Donewald said. Forward Yi Jianlian, who carried the Chinese flag during the opening ceremony, has been carrying the club with 23.0 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. Yi was 0 for 3 from the field and went scoreless in the 2008 pre-Olympic loss to Australia. Former NBA center Zhizhi Wang is averaging 9.0 points in this tournament. Australia and China reached the quarterfinals in Beijing, with the Aussies losing to the United States and China falling to Lithuania.
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