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Young coach under fire, in danger of being sacked
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08:21, August 18, 2009

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Young Chinese men's basketball coach, Guo Shiqiang has come under fire from media and fans a day after his team suffered one of the most humiliating losses in Asian Basketball Championships' history in Tianjin.

"Guo is the sinner behind the loss. He had no idea to make changes and made some big mistakes in the first half of the match," said sports.sina.com.

Guo and his players were unable to break down Iran's defense in the Asian Championships final on Sunday night. They trailed 42-25 at the half before ultimately losing 70-52.

Guo, a teammate of NBA All-star center Yao Ming just five years ago at the Athens Olympics, was appointed head coach in May, making him the youngest national hoops coach in the nation's history.

However, his inexperience seemed to show in the Iran game and Guo said he accepted full responsibility for the loss.

"All of the players and the entire coaching staff prepared for two months for this tournament and they were all very hard working," said Guo. "It's really a pity for us to lose the title. I think we didn't get enough mental preparation and the players faced too much pressure during the (final) match.

"It's not the fault of players or the coaching team. I'm the head coach and I take all the responsibility."

But his apology and self-criticism did not garner much forgiveness from his detractors.

"It's Guo's first major tournament and it's a total loss for him," said sports.sohu.com. "He has so much to learn from the coaches of Asian opponents as well as coaches in the NBA."

Leading sports newspaper Titan was even more critical of the head coach with an eye-catching headline of "It's Guo who beat China".

"We have Asia's best players, Yi Jianlian and Wang Zhizhi in the center. But we never played as a unit in this tournament," said the newspaper. "This is the only team without any tactics in the sport's history."

According to a public poll on sina.com, 75 percent of respondents were disappointed with China's performances in the tournament and 60 percent placed the blame with Guo.

Guo tried to defend himself, saying Yao's absence was a huge blow to the team, but some media attacked him for using Yao as an excuse and was concerned that China are likely to suffer further morale-sapping blows at next year's World Championships in Turkey without the Houston Rockets center.

"It's of no use relying on Yao because Yao will not return next year," said Oriental Sports Daily, based in Yao's hometown of Shanghai. "If we continue to play this way, our men's basketball team will have no hope at all at the World Championships.

"It's just the start of a slump if basketball's governing body keeps its trust in Guo."

Official from the sport's governing body, the Basketball Administrative Center, refused to make any comments on Guo and blamed the short pre-tournament training camp for the team's performance.

"Compared to other teams, we only had three months to train together. It's not enough to make the team a unit," said deputy director Hu Jiashi. "Yi also came back to the training camp just weeks before the tournament and we also had some injuries."

Source: China Daily/Agency

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