SAPPORO (FIBA World Championship
) - A hard-working China kept their hopes of progressing to the eight-finals at the FIBA World Championship alive after beating a disappointing Senegal 100-83 on Wednesday.
Jonas Kazlauskas' men trailed 47-38 late in the second quarter but the Chinese battled back and Senegal went to the changing room at half-time with a 49-45 lead.
Senegal stormed back into a 55-47 lead early in the third quarter, but China persevered and Zhizhi Wang's three-pointer with a 35 seconds left in the period put the Asian champions in front at 69-68 and they stay aheasd for the remainder of the game.
Winless Senegal, who were without the injured duo Makhtar N'Diaye and Mamadou N'Doye, shot themselves in the foot in the fourth quarter by turning the ball over seven times.
They had 16 turnovers for the game.
The perimeter shooting of Zhizhi and Shipeng Wang in the final period allowed China to pull away.
Yao Ming had a game-high 26 points and hauled down nine rebounds while Zhizhi added 19 points and Shipeng poured in 17.
"It was a great win for us," said a delighted China coach Jonas Kazlauskas.
"I am happy that in the last quarter we played like a team. All the players stepped up their game when it really mattered."
Kazlauskas did suffer for his team had a poor start to the contest, with three consecutive turnovers in the opening minute allowing Senegal to score the first four points of the game.
But the mighty Yao replied, netting his team's first 10 points with five minutes played to make sure his team kept up with their rivals.
Maleye N'Doye's lay-up allowed Senegal to go into the second quarter with a 27-24 advantage.
Senegal's hopes of extending their lead were shattered by who else but Yao, whose eight consecutive points allowed China to level the score 55-55 four minutes into the third quarter.
Yao made two from the line to give his team a 71-68 lead going into final quarter.
China then demolished their rivals with a 13-0 run (97-80) with one minute remaining.
Richard Aw Jules led Senegal with 19 points on eight of 10 shooting inside the arc.
Senegal, who no longer have a chance of qualifying for the last 16 after failing to clinch a victory in four games, take on Group D leaders USA in their last contest in Japan on Thursday while China will take on Slovenia, a game they must win to clinch the last qualifying place.
"This is a learning process for us," said Senegal captain Ndiaye.
"We have a young team and this will only help the players improve and gain experience." By Cindy Garcia-Bennett