“Now we did what we thought our fans and this country deserved – a trip to London. And I want to give a big thanks to my players, because they're going where they belong and that's London.”
WUHAN, China (26th FIBA Asia Championship): Now, China’s win over Jordan in the final of the 26th FIBA Asia Championship had more connotations than one.
For one, China had automatically qualified for the 2012 London Olympics. The Chinese Dragon had slayed all its rivals – nine in all – and was back at the top of the pecking order in the FIBA Asia Championship for another. But most importantly, for coach Bob Donewald it was a return of investment made the fans, the administration and the men those who matter in the CBA.
“I thank the leaders of the CBA for being patient and understanding,” the coach said after the momentous triumph.
Take us through your journey with the China National Team.
Two years ago, China was coming off a tough loss at home to Iran in the 25th FIBA Asia Championship at Tianjin.
Yao (Ming) wasn’t playing and people thought Chinese basketball couldn't win for a while. I took the job after my first season with the Shanghai team and it has been a great experience and a lot of fun coaching a great group of guys.
We had a surprising top 16 finish in the 2010 FIBA World Championship last summer and now after winning the 26th FIBA Asia Championship we have gone undefeated now for two years against all Asian teams, including beating Iran three times last summer.
The leaders of the CBA have been very supportive as we are transitioning an older group on their way out with a lot of new and young talents.
And all credit to my players as they have been a joy to coach and achieved what two years ago most people doubted.
Talk us through the Championship.
Wow – What a fun ride!
We were so beat up and injured all summer and we came together without two huge pieces in Wang Shipeng and Zhou Peng.
But we got everyone else healthy in just enough time to put together about two weeks of practice and came in really ready.
I thought defensively we were as good as any team in the history of China.
And then in the final we were so nervous – the pressure had gotten to a lot of our guys. But in the end they relaxed enough to pull through!
Let’s talk about the final
We started a little bit nervous, but our defense (worked hard). I will sleep with the winning ball tonight.
One month ago, many of you didn't think we would be here. A lot of people doubted us. But my team will go to London.
I thought it was a great basketball game. I thought we played very nervous, but the veterans came out in the third quarter and made a statement in the game. Jordan had to play catch up the rest of the game and that was the difference.
We're going to where most people didn't think we would and that's the Olympics.
About the team
I am lucky to coach all 12 of these guys. This is a fun bunch to work with, and I hope we made the nation proud and the fans proud. It was a tough summer but it has been a great ending.
I want to thank the leaders of the CBA for staying with us, I want to thank my staff for keeping their heads down and just working.
And I want to give a big thanks to my players, because they're going where they belong and that's London.
Do you feel vindicated in some ways?
No. I just focused on the job at hand. I knew if we had our main guys (or most