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China becomes ninth team in Olympic men’s basketball field

Yi Jianlian

China’s Yi Jianlian (top) dunks the ball against Jordan during their men’s Asia Championships basketball game in Manila on August 10, 2013. China won 79-76. AFP PHOTO / TED ALJIBE (Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)

AFP/Getty Images

China is set to play in its ninth straight Olympic men’s basketball tournament after beating the Philippines 78-67 in the FIBA Asia Championship on Saturday.

The Chinese were guided by former NBA power forward Yi Jianlian, a three-time Olympian who led the team in scoring and rebounding at the last Olympics. Yi scored 11 points with 15 rebounds Saturday.

Yi and company kept the Philippines, with former NBA forward Andray Blatche, from qualifying for the Olympics for the first time since 1972. Blatche scored a team-leading 17 points.

China went 0-5 at London 2012, failing to win a game at an Olympics for the first time since 1992. Now-retired Yao Ming led the team in 2000, 2004 and 2008, but the nation has never reached the Olympic semifinals.

The 2016 Olympic men’s basketball field:

Brazil — Host nation
U.S. — 2014 World champion
Australia — Oceania champion
Nigeria — Africa champion
Argentina — Americas finalist
Venezuela — Americas finalist
Spain — Europe finalist
Lithuania — Europe finalist
China -- Asia champion
Three winners of three July global, last-chance qualifying tournaments

The three last-chance qualifying tournament fields will be six nations each, including three to-be-named, wild-card nations, plus these 15 nations:

Serbia -- 2014 World silver medalist
-- 2014 World bronze medalist
Greece -- last Olympics: 2008
Italy -- last Olympics: 2004
Czech Republic -- last Olympics: Never
Puerto Rico -- last Olympics: 2004
Canada -- last Olympics: 2000
Mexico -- last Olympics: 1976
Iran -- last Olympics: 2008
Japan -- last Olympics: 1976
Philippines -- last Olympics: 1972
Tunisia -- only Olympic appearance was 2012
Angola -- last Olympics: 2008
Senegal -- last Olympics: 1980
New Zealand -- last Olympics: 2004

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