Liaoning to face Guangdong in U22 basketball final at National Games

TONGCHUAN, China, Sept. 25 (Xinhua) — Defending champions Liaoning edged Zhejiang 83-72 here on Saturday to set up a highly-anticipated U22 men’s basketball final against Guangdong at the National Games.

Guangdong thrashed Hubei 109-80 in the other semifinal.

Guard Guo Ailun scored a game-high 31 points, and center Zhou Qi collected 20 points, 15 rebounds and 5 blocks in Liaoning’s victory.

“This is more difficult compared to the CBA finals,” admitted Liaoning head coach Yang Ming, whose side lost to Guangdong in the CBA finals last season.

“In the CBA, you have five or seven games to play in the playoffs. But here in the National Games, one mistake could cost you the game. My players had a great game, and they fought until the last second,” he added.

Zhejiang opened the game with an 11-2 start, before Liaoning tied it at 11-11. The two teams played out a 23-23 first quarter to set the tone of the encounter.

Liaoning won just three points in each of the following two 10-minute quarters, leading 60-54 into the decisive fourth quarter when its first-team players almost had no rest.

Each team is allowed to field four players over 22 years old in the U22 tournament. Liaoning’s starting lineup contained four All-Star players from the Liaoning Flying Leopards, along with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers All-Star center Zhou Qi.

Zhejiang came up as close as 82-80 but never led in the last quarter, and Liaoning hung on to win.

CBA MVP Wu Qian led Zhejiang with 19 points but got little help from his younger teammates.

In the 5th-8th classifications, Beijing beat Tianjin 69-53, and Shandong defeated Shannxi 100-70.

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