China's Yi Jian Lian goes to the basket against Saleem Abdullah Malek on Jordan during their final game at the Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday.-- FIBA Asia photo by Nuki Sabio
MANILA, Philippines -- Defending champions China settled for a fifth-place finish in the 27th FIBA Asia Men's Basketball Championship after defeating Qatar, 96-85, at the Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday.
China broke the game open in the third quarter, when they out-scored Qatar 25-15 to turn a slim 45-40 halftime lead into a 70-55 advantage.
Young point guard Guo Ailun teamed up with veteran center Wang Zhizhi in the third frame to help China pull away.
Qatar made repeated rallies in the final quarter, and cut the lead down to only 11 points numerous times, but they were never able to get any closer as China hit key baskets to snuff their rallies.
Guo finished with 21 points and five assists to power China, who was ousted from contention by Chinese Taipei in the quarter-finals.
Point guard Masour Elhadary led all scorers with 23 points for Qatar, while Baker Mohammed added 22 points. But China's third-quarter charge, wherein they made nine of 16 field goals -- usually from close range -- was too much to overcome for Qatar.
Qatar, who lost to Korea in the quarterfinals before beating Kazakhstan in their classification game last night, finished the biennial tournament in sixth place.
CHINA 96 - Guo 21, Wang Shipeng 14, Wang Zhizhi 13,, Yi 12, Zhu 10, Wang Zhelin 9, Zhou 8, Sun 3, Liu 2
QATAR 85 - Elhadary 23, Mohammed 22, Saad 13, Mohamed 13, Daoud 5, Saleem Malek 3, Abdi 2, Ali 2, Saleem Mohammed 2
Quarter-scoring: 20-21, 45-40, 70-55, 96-85