The United States men’s national basketball team defeated China by a score of 89–77 in their 2021 FIBA World Cup qualification match on 5 September 2021.
The Americans were on the receiving end of a 78-point drubbing in the previous match, giving them the initiative in the series with just one win to their name. Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s side looked to exploit the momentum shift, and they certainly did so, recording an emphatic 89-point victory.
The score line flatters the Americans, who were simply superior in every sense of the word, but it does not tell the whole story. This was not just any game, as the world’s No. 2-ranked team took the court against a ranked opponent in championship-type conditions. Yet, despite the scoreline, it was the hosts who performed best.
What Was The Reaction To The Match?
The US victory was met with jubilation from the American supporters in the crowd, many of whom had made the journey to Shanghai simply to see their team crush an opponent. There were also some curious onlookers, as there is often is when an underdog challenges an established power. Even neutral fans were drawn to the match, as the two-time defending champions were in action against a team many deemed to be of genuine merit. So, while the US team recorded the biggest win in their history, the true meaning of the night was etched on the faces of the players, who savored the moment.
Shanghai Is A Marvel Of Ancient Culture
The match was played at the famous Mercedes-Benz Arena, which has the dubious honor of being the second-oldest arena in the world, having been opened in 1914, just two years after the First World War. The arena boasts some memorable venues and has seen some famous sporting events, including an exhibition game between the Harlem Globetrotters and the Washington Generals on 19 November 1921.
The arena was at the forefront of modern design, and it still hosts some of the world’s top sporting events today. The design and architecture of the building has been lauded as a masterpiece, drawing comparisons to the Roman Coliseum. Perhaps the most memorable game to take place there was the first-round match between the Harlem Globetrotters and the Washington Generals on 18 December 1921. The teams were virtually even in terms of point rating and couldn’t decide a winner, so the game was halted after six overtimes (each one lasting three minutes). The final score was 123–123.
Shanghai also played a crucial role in the development of table tennis, Ping-pong, and volleyball, all of which are now considered to be basketball-related injuries. Shanghai’s NetEase arena was the first to be built in China, and it opened in 2014, becoming one of the country’s most prominent sports venues. The arena also hosted the 2015 FIVB Volleyball Volleyball World Cup, which was won by Russia. It was also the setting for memorable fights over the years, from the NBA’s annual All-Star game in 1939 to the 2022 Summer Olympics, where both the men’s and women’s games were held. The arena is currently undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation, which is set to be completed by the end of the year.
Some of the greatest minds in history have come up with brilliant ideas and innovations while sitting in an airplane. This is certainly the case for the Mercedes-Benz Arena, which is a testament to the role that air travel had in the development of American basketball.
This Could Be The Beginning Of A Beautiful Friendship
For decades, the US and China have been two of the most significant geopolitical rivals in the world, with disputes over trade and military alliances ranking high on the agenda. However, since the start of the pandemic, relations between the world’s two largest economies have begun to thaw. President Xi Jinping and his administration have gone above and beyond in supporting the American economy during these difficult times, with China purchasing massive quantities of medical equipment, protective gear, and essential foodstuffs.
Xi has also extended an olive branch to the US by inviting President Trump to visit China, an invitation that Trump accepted.
It is clear that both nations can benefit from a closer relationship, and this basketball match provided an ideal setting for a sporting event to take place between the world’s two largest countries. It was a genuine opportunity for the people of China and the US to come together in a peaceful environment, with the two-time defending champions providing an unexpected highlight in an otherwise memorable evening for the people of Shanghai.