Thursday, August 24, 2006


For me, it's like having my first cup of water after 10 thirsty days.

This was the response from Yao after China won for the first time. I can sympathize with Yao. It's bad enough to watch Yao play with no help and no passers. I can't think what must have been going through Yao's mind as he saw his teammates stumble and bungle their way to three losses, despite the fact he's leading the WC in scoring.

Due to a scheduling conflict, I wasn't able to watch China (and Yao) take Senegal apart 100-83. I wish I could, because I have a feeling that the game against Slovenia tomorrow (which I will watch), will be somewhat different.

Due to the fact that Slovenia beat Puerto Rico by 8, the last day of group play could become very complicated. I think I have the correct take on this (this task was made no easier by the fact that the FIBA site is still down most of the time).

1. If China beats Slovenia, and Puerto Rico beats Italy, then China will automatically advance, since PR will be 3-2, and Slovenia and China will be 2-3, and China will hold the head-to-head, which is the first tiebreaker used in the FIBA events.

2. If China wins, but Puerto Rico loses, then things become very, very complicated. Then, Slovenia, China, and PR will all be tied at 2-3. Since China beat Slovenia, Slovenia beat PR, and PR beat China, all head-to-head matchups would canceled as tiebreakers, and it would go down to point differential. If PR loses by a small amount, then China would have to win against Slovenia by a minimum of 17 points. Then both Slovenia and China would be tied at -15 point differential, and since China beat Slovenia, China would advance. However, if PR loses big, then China might be able to overtake PR and even Slovenia as well to be the third team in their group.

Of course, all these situations will be canceled out if China loses, so it is imperative China wins first, then worry about the PR-Italy afterwards, as it will be played later.

Situations like these make you think about what would have happened if China had simply beaten PR. Then all they would have had to do is beat Slovenia and they would automatically advance.

In such a close loss like that, I often fall into thinking about "what if?".

At the start of the game, Yao Ming went for the tip (Yi Jianlian jumped center, not him), and was called for an offensive foul, which it obviously wasn't. What if it wasn't called? Then Yao Ming wouldn't have fouled out.

What if Yi had held on to the rebound with 22 seconds left, instead of fumbling it to Latimer, who scored the tying basket? Then PR would have had to foul, and China would have had a chance to clinch it.

So many times I have said to myself and even to others that speculation is endless and profitless. Yet still I revert to this. Am I merely a unique, rabid fan, or are there others out there like me?

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