ANKARA: Yi Jianlian on Sunday helped China claim their first victory at the 2010 World Basketball Championships as his game-high, 26-point nine-rebound effort led his team to an 83-73 win over Ivory Coast.
China, who were found wanting in their opening game against Greece on Saturday, will be relieved to have their first win but will also recognise that more work needs to be done, with a plucky Ivory Coast threatening the Chinese lead throughout the game.
The lead exchanged hands often in the opening quarter as Ivory Coast matched the Chinese point for point.
The Chinese cause was not helped by some sloppy ball play as they gave away easy turnovers which the Ivory Coast were able to convert into easy points, meaning China only held a slender four-point lead (21-17) at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Ivory Coast took back the lead early and it was only when China's 2.13m big man Shipeng Weng lit up from outside the perimeter with three quick three pointers that China looked like they would be able to shake of their opponents.
A slow start to the second half again put their lead in jeopardy, only for them to once again be saved by some sharp shooting, this time from Yi, in the later stage of the quarter.
Their pattern of slow starts to quarters did not let up in the final as Ivory Coast got within seven points with just over three minutes to play.
However, calm heads prevailed and China were able to hang on for the 83-73 victory.
They will now welcome a rest on Monday before preparing to take on Puerto Rico on Tuesday.