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Chinese rules, literally in Game 1 of NBL All-Australian tour
The NBL All-Australian team has started off slowly in their three-game Sino-Australian Men's International Basketball Challenge series against the Chinese National Men's Team, going down 66-68 in Beijing.
Down the stretch, the All-Australian team's lack of cohesiveness stood out as the team couldn't connect on multiple possessions trying to eliminate the deficit.
Australia had the chance to win or tie the game with 1.9 seconds remaining, but turned the ball over trying to give themselves the best opportunity to score.
Despite the scrappy finish, the NBL's All-Australian team put together a game which can only do them favours for the remainder of the series. With a team put together and given just 48-hours to practice, the All-Australian team put themselves in the best possible position early led by Brisbane Bullet duo Daniel Kickert and Jeremy Kendle.
Kickert finished the game with 18 points and was stellar from the low block and beyond the arc (4/6 3P).
Kendle was just as exhilarating, showcasing that he definitely belongs in Australia's top tier. His ability to handle the ball early in the opening half while reigning league MVP Jerome Randle was on the bench was what interested the viewers most, as well as his defensive hustle late in the event.
Speaking of Randle, coming off a plane from Chicago prior to tip made it difficult for him to come straight in and play his usual upbeat style.
Despite a lethargic opening term, Randle settled in showcasing his best assets which included a beautiful dish to Blanchfield in the corner for three, before a teardrop of his own in the second quarter.
The Australian's quickly understood that their backs were against the walls when Tom Jervis was called for a questionable three-second lane violation despite not actually being in the key.
Referees were a topic of discussion throughout the night, between both fans and commentators - a selection of questionable decisions from the Chinese referees turned out to be baffling.
Home town referees aside, Chinese guard Wu Qian played exceptionally and was almost unstoppable from downtown.
Six three's for the sharp shooter allowed China back into the game, his fourth giving China their first lead in the second quarter, his final one even more impressive tying the game at 49 before the home side ran away with it.
Wu Qian wasn't done there though, hitting clutch free throws down the stretch to see China take a 1-0 series lead, as was the case in last year's series.
The series now shifts to Jilin on Friday when the NBL select side look to even the series up before Game 3 on Sunday in Dongguan
Game 1 - Beijing China 68-66 NBL All-Australian Team
Game 2 - Jilin 9:30pm AEST Fox Sports & NBL TV
Game 3 - Dongguan 9:30pm AEST Fox Sports & NBL TV