Korea stuns China in FIBA Asia opener

South Korea came up with big plays in the last two minutes to upset defending champion China, 63-59, and send shock waves across the FIBA Asia Championship landscape.

The Koreans kept it close all throughout the low-scoring ballgame, threatened to pull away early in the fourth period, and then weathered an Yi Jianlian-led comeback to complete the the big win that gave them a share of the Group C lead.

The Main Man: Frontliner Kim Joo-Sung battled NBA veteran Yi in the paint for most of the game, and he more than held his own.  The big man finished with 15 points, including seven late in the game that prevented China from pulling away. He also came up with a crucial interception in the last 1:20 that led to an unsportsmanlike foul by China.

Honorable Mention: Point guard Yang Donggeun canned four big free throws in the last 87 seconds of the game, including two that iced the big win. Yang went on to finish with 11 points.

The Turning Point:

This game was tight throughout, with neither team leading by more than six points. South Korea threatened to pull away at the start of the fourth after a Lee Seung Jun basket made it 48-42 with 9:40 left, but China turned to its NBA veteran to stay close.

After Yi scored six straight points to resort the lead to China at 50-48 with 5:09 left, Kim replied with a jump hook to tie the game. A Yi slam made it 52-50 for tend emending champions, but Kim sank two free throws to tie it up again at the 4:06 mark. China inched ahead at 55-52, but Kim completed a three-point play off Yi to tie it at 55 with 2:13 left.

Yang and Zhu Fangyu traded free throws, before Cho Singmin gave Korea the lead for good with two charities off a Zhu foul with 31.2 seconds left. After a China timeout, Zhu Peng drove hard to the basket but missed an easy layup. Two more free throws by Cho made it 61-57, and China had a golden chance to cut the lead to one after Liu Xiayu scored on a drive and was fouled. But the young guard missed the bonus free throw, and Yang completed the stunning win by cooly sinking two free throws with 13.8 seconds left.

They Said It:

"We played passively. We couldn't make shots. The most important thing is to stay focused. I still have a hamstring injury. It's still hurting and it's affecting my performance especially on the defensive end." - Yi Jianlian

They stayed in the game. We were a little nervous. We missed a lot of layups and a lot of easy baskets." - China head coach Panagiotis Giannakis.

"We practiced a lot for China. We overcame their height." - Kim Joo-song.

"It's a good win. But we think we can do better." - South Korea head coach Yoo Jae Hak


Get stories like this on the Yahoo app and discover more every day.
Download it now.