CHINA might have lost seven-foot grinder Wang Zhizhi to retirement but the defending champion will still tower over other teams in the 27th Fiba Asia Championship slated Aug. 1 to 11 at MOA Arena.
Led by 7-foot-3 Li Muhao, seven-footer Yi Jianlian and Wang Zhelin (6-11), the Chinese are truly the epitome of the basketball adage “height is might” in their quest for a second straight Asian championship.
The triple towers of China’s Great Wall will be complemented by point guard Sun Yue and power forwards Zhou Peng and Li Xiaoxu, who all stand 6-foot-8, pushing the team’s average height to 6-foot-6, the tallest among the 16 countries in the fold.
Veteran guard Liu Wei and Chen Jianghua, both 6-foot-2, are the shortest players on the floor for the 2011 Fiba Asia champions.
Iran, the 2007 and 2009 champion, is not far behind in terms of length with 7-foot-3 Hamed Haddadi, seven-foot Rouzbeh Arghavan and the stocky 6-foot-9 Asghar Kardoust manning the paint.
The Iranians also have a trio of 6-7s in power forwards Hamed Sohrabnejad and Oshin Sakahian and shooting guard Saman Veisi. They have an average ceiling of 6-5.
Gilas Pilipinas is seventh as far as elevation is concerned. Naturalized center Marcus Douthit (6-10) will protect the shaded area along with the 6-9 Japeth Aguilar and 6-10 June Mar Fajardo.
Gilas, a collection of stars in the PBA, stands 6-foot-3 on the average but has an undersized set of guards in Jimmy Alapag and LA Tenorio, both 5-7, and 5-10 Jason Castro.
Jordan is the third tallest squad at 6-foot-5 average with Ahmad Hekmat Aldavairi (6-9), Mohammad Shaher Hussain (6-8) and Ali Jamal Zaghab (6-8) patrolling the shaded lane.
Qatar averages 6-foot-4 ½ followed by Japan (6-4) and South Korea (6-3 ¾). Thailand is the shortest at 6-1 average.