'This guy is really special': Stopping Zhou Qi top priority for Boomers

Boomers head coach Brian Goorjian conceded he had concerns about a letdown against Japan on Friday night, after a hard-fought win over China 24 hours earlier.

But despite the back-to-back schedule there was little cause for concern with the Boomers working over their undersized opposition, physically overwhelming Japan on the way to a blowout victory.c

Just minutes after the win Goorjian was already looking ahead to Sunday night, with a re-match against China as Australia look to close out a 3-0 window which would move them to 6-0 overall as the FIBA World Cup Qualifying bracket moves to the second round.

A key focus on Sunday night will be rectifying a discrepancy on the glass that saw China outrebound Australia 43-29 overall and 13-6 on the offensive glass, which led to a 10-1 differential in second-chance points.

Unlike the Japan matchup, the Boomers will once again be faced with multiple seven-footers led by Chinese megastar Zhou Qi. Finishing with 16 points and a staggering 17 rebounds in the first meeting with the Boomers, the big man left the Australian locker room wowed by his dominance after an up and down season by his usual dominant standards in NBL22.

"He's big in the NBL, but he seemed bigger the other night," Goorjian said. "They're just huge and I just think there are a couple of areas they got us, and we can make a couple of adjustments, but we did go into that game with a focus.

"The fact we've played them once, we hope we can do it a little bit better. I'm really pleased we get the opportunity to play China twice because it's great for the development of the Boomers and it's great for Melbourne. They don't take losing lightly; they will be pumped as we will so it's going to be a great game."

Zhou Qi averaged just 21.1 minutes per game with the South East Melbourne Phoenix, with Goorjian pointing to the stylistic differences between the NBL and CBA plus adjustment to the officiating as potential challenges during his time in the league.

"When I've played against him in China, when I've played against him Internationally like last night, he's livelier and more of a focus. I don't put any disrespect for Phoenix in that way, it's just a big adjustment and it's never been done before, a Chinese player coming and playing in this competition.

"Our competition is totally different with how it's played, and it's called totally different. He got in a lot of foul trouble in the NBL, it's much more free-flowing here, the game doesn't stop like it does in the NBL. The frustration of fouls and the opportunity of him being a focus is different.

"Everything goes through Zhou Qi, and that's how it is on his club team, even with imports. I'm not saying anything is right or anything is wrong, but you're dealing with a different guy on Team China than you are the Phoenix."

While Goorjian has stressed that slowing down the Chinese big men will not be left to one man, the contributions of Thon Maker and Sam Froling will be significant. Maker will be looking for a stronger performance after tallying just two points and two rebounds on Thursday after picking up some quick fouls in the second half.

The seven-footer did respond against Japan, putting up seven points, nine rebounds and two blocks in just 14 minutes, though, the matchup could hardly be described as a fair fight.

"[China's] size as a unit is the biggest challenge. [Zhou Qi's] length, offensive rebounding, limiting him to one shot. That comes with doing our job early, making it hard for them to catch the ball," Maker said during training camp.

With the results carrying over to the next round of qualification, the matchup will be a significant one for the team while there are also opportunities for individuals in the squad with Goorjian consistently dangling the carrot for World Cup and Olympic campaigns to come.

While Maker and White have drawn attention, it's the understated Will McDowell-White who has impressed the veteran coach.

"I was very high on him coming in. I thought he's an important piece in this. We see McDowell-White, in what he's done in New Zealand, he's a great pick-and-roll guy and a lot of these guys with their NBL team they don't have the fortune of having the other ball carrier with him," Goorjian said.

"We definitely wanted to get him more minutes tonight and we see him with a really bright future, he's someone we've talked about, guys moving on to the next one, he's one who we are having a really good look at."

Individual exploits aside, the Boomers know it all comes back to Zhou Qi. Slow the former Houston Rocket down and they will be in a strong position for another home victory.

"It's like the first time you see Yao Ming when you're over there, this guy is really special and he's evolving. I do think the NBL was good for him," Goorjian said.

Watch Australia vs. China live on ESPN and Kayo -- Coverage starts at 6:30pm Sunday night from John Cain Arena.