One of the more exciting basketball matches at the 15th Doha Asian Games in Qatar featured the two tall teams China and Kazakhstan. But more talked about was the match-up between China's Yi Jianlian, who finished with 14 points and Kazakhstan's young star Anton Ponomarev, who ended the night with 15 points. Four NBA scouts made their way over to the game, representing the Los Angeles Lakers, Atlanta Hawks, Milwaukee Bucks and Portland Trailblazers.
Both teams got off to a great start and the race was close throughout the entire match. Although both Jianlian and Ponomarev found each other guarding different opponents, the two tower players grew physical once they matched up in the paint. Jianlian outshined Ponomarev in the first half, who struggled at times to grab his own rebound, getting out muscled in almost every shot. Jianlian seemed to be benefiting from plenty of great passes by team mate Wang Shipeng.
The second half started with more excitement as both Jianlian and Ponomarev showed more spunk by adding back-to-back dunks. As Jianlian grew tired and was subbed out, Ponomarev showed some serious flashes, slithering around the defense in the paint. Ponomarev, along with teammate Dmitriy Korovnikov (22 pts) brought the score to within 6 points. Not long after the focus shifted towards former NBA player Wang Zhizhi (22 pts) who pulled in 4 quick baskets, following a spectacular block pinning the ball against the glass as the shot clock ran down on Kazakhstan. The competition came to a close as China triumphed over Kazakhstan 89-77. Though China controlled the game for the most part, Kazakhstan looks to be a team of the future, and a team no one should overlook.
Yi Jianlian, 7'0", PF/C, 1987
14 points, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 steals, 3 turnovers, 7-12 FG, 4 fouls, 21 minutes
Anton Ponomarev, 610, Power Forward, 1988, Kazakhstan
15 points, 5 rebounds, 5 turnovers, 3/11 FG, 9/11 FT, 36 minutes