Reports have surfaced that Yi Jianlian injured his arm playing for China in an international competition, the Stankovic Cup, held in Liuzhou, China, while getting ready for the 2010 FIBA World Championships in Turkey [hat tip to Matt Moore of ProBasketballTalk]. Initial reports only indicated that Jianlian suffered an “injury” to his right arm, and that forced him to sit out the second half of China’s loss to Slovenia. However, Jianlian came back and played in the next game against Iran.
In their first game on July 28th, China lost 64-63 to Australia. Jianlian led the Chinese with 17 points and 10 rebounds in just over 17 minutes of game time. But Australia’s David Andersen, who was recently traded from the Houston Rockets to the Toronto Raptors, scored a basket in the game’s final 10 seconds to give the Aussies a one point victory. Andersen finished with eight points and seven rebounds. Patty Mills led Australia with 13 points.
On July 29th the Chinese faced Iran and defeated them 86-64. Jianlian had 16 points (7-12 from two-point land, 0-1 from three, 2-2 from the free-throw line), 10 rebounds (two offensive), three blocks, one steal, two assists and three turnovers in 28 minutes of action.
Jianlian was injured in his third game on July 30th against Goran Dragic and Slovenia. Yi was limited to just 11 minutes and scored 11 points, grabbing only two rebounds. Dragic, a member of the Phoenix Suns, notched a triple-double with 15 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. With Jianlian on the bench for the second half, Slovenia prevailed over China 75-71.
In China’s final game of the Stankovic Cup on August 1st, Jianlian came back and led his team to another victory over Iran, 76-58. In 36 minutes Yi scored 18 points (6-17 on twos, 6-8 from the free-throw line, he did not attempt a three-pointer), grabbed 11 rebounds (six offensive), and had three blocks, two steals, an assist and five turnovers. He received specific praise for his ability to finish inside, garnering a couple three-point plays in the second half.
The final victory put China’s record in the cup at 2-2 and placed them third in the four team competition; Slovenia finished first and Australia finished second. China has earned a bronze metal in the last two cups after finishing in second in both 2007 and 2008. China failed to finish in the top three in 2006 and 2005, and has not won the Stankovic Cup since its inception in ’05.
The two victories over Iran afforded the Chinese a little bit of revenge after losing to Iran 70-52 in the 2009 FIBA Asian Championship, which was hosted by China. Jianlian only scored 11 points on 5-17 shooting in 38 minutes of that championship game.
Jianlian finished third in scoring in the 2010 Stankovic tournament with a 15.5 average and first in rebounding with an 8.2 average. He made the all-tournament team along with Andersen and Mills from Australia, and Sani Becirovic and Dragic from Slovenia, the latter being named tournament MVP.
So, it’s good that Jianlian was able to come back and have a solid outing after getting injured, especially the part about six of his 11 rebounds being on the offensive end. But Wizards fans will be watching that right arm closely when the 2010 FIBA World Basketball Championship opens in Turkey.
China is in Group C along with Greece, Russia, Puerto Rico, Ivory Coast and host Turkey. China is currently ranked ninth by FIBA and is likely in the toughest group with Greece ranked fourth, Puerto Rico ranked 10th, Russia ranked 17th and Turkey ranked 18th. They will open the preliminary round in a game against Greece on Saturday, August 28th.