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Daily Drip

So, Err… China Just Crashed Out of the Basketball World Cup It’s Hosting

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China is currently hosting the FIBA Basketball World Cup. A country that’s crazy about basketball and full of people who love the sport, hosting its biggest international tournament outside of the Olympics. What could go wrong?

Well, if there’s one thing China knows how to do when it comes to sports its people love, it’s produce a national team that really sucks at said sport. Just ask any Chinese football fan.

Tonight, the Chinese men’s basketball team crashed out of the main competition at the FIBA World Cup 2019 after just three games. Having overcome Côte d’Ivoire in their opening game, China somehow conspired to lose to Poland and then — tonight — to Venezula, meaning they wound up third in their group, with only the top two teams qualifying for the next stage of the tournament proper. (China will now play on in a lower-key round of games, with qualification for the Tokyo Olympics on the line.)

This was not in the script.

After the narrow loss to Poland on Monday, Chinese social media had already been full of abuse being hurled at Zhou Qi (who had a nightmare) and gifs of Yao Ming looking distraught. But after this latest defeat… well, it ain’t pretty.

Yao Ming

Yao Ming watching the Chinese men’s basketball team lose to Venezuela

While some on Chinese social media platforms such as Weibo have gamely tried to state their support for the men’s team regardless of the, umm, setback, recriminations and embarrassment are also prominent. Comments under a People’s Daily Weibo post of the result appeared to have been disabled, which isn’t exactly a sign that harmonious discourse is taking place.

While controversial rapper GAI was seen smiling in apparent bewilderment during the game, a GIF of streetball legend MoreFree looking pretty appalled at the events unfolding on the court quickly went viral on Weibo. A video clip on the same platform also showed the latter absolutely distraught at the end of the game.

morefree world cup

After 170,000 votes, a quick-fire poll from popular news service Jinri Toutiao (Today’s Headlines) on how people felt about the defeat had around a third of respondents stating it was “hard to take”; just over 36% meanwhile, said they were “furious”. Understandable really.

Related:

How Basketball Became China’s Most Beloved Sport

Jake Newby
Jake Newby is a Shanghai-based writer and editor with more than a decade's experience living and working in China. Previously managing editor of Time Out Shanghai, he's also written for publications such as South China Morning Post and the Financial Times.