CHANGZHOU (Olympics) - Miao Lijie secured a permanent place in the history of Chinese and Olympic basketball by finishing as the leading scorer of the Beijing Games four years ago.
The veteran looks as if she’s going to put forth another big performance this summer when China, the gold-medal winners at last year’s FIBA Asia Championship for Women, play at the Olympics in London.
Miao drilled a game-winning shot just before the buzzer for China as they scraped a 75-73 win this week over a New Zealand Tall Ferns team that is in the last stages of its preparations for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Women (OQTW).
The 30-year-old small forward ended the game with 18 points.
Miao then had 15 points in Thursday’s 68-59 triumph over Angola, the surprise winners of last year’s Afrobasket Women and a team that has a place at the London Games.
The other encouraging sign for the Chinese, who came in fourth in Beijing, is that center Nan Chen also played well against the Tall Ferns and Angola.
She finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds against New Zealand and then had 15 in the victory over Angola.
China and Angola will play in Group A of the Olympics with the United States and three teams that come out of the OQTW.
“I think we are well on track as far as the Olympics is concerned,” China coach Sun Fengwu said.
China’s Miao and Nan have consistently provided points the last several summers.
If Ma Zengyu can continue to play well, it will be a big boost.
She had 18 points in the win over the Tall Ferns.
The biggest issue for Sun is that of the youngsters and how quickly they can adapt to the highest level of the game.
After the win over New Zealand, Sun admitted his youngsters are facing a real challenge to get up to speed.
“The seniors are playing fine,” he said.
“There are no problems there.
“It’s the support group that has to raise their game.
“There’s a lot of work left to do before they can take on the Olympic stage.”
photos Janos Schmidt