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China's head coach Bob Donewald gives instructions to his players during their FIBA Basketball World Championship game against Greece in Ankara August 28, 2010. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

MARK BLINCH

China's basketball coach Bob Donewald Jr. has shrugged off stinging criticism after a record 87-40 loss to hosts Turkey at the world championships.

The American insisted he was correct to rest his starters with China already guaranteed a place in the knockout stage despite a lop-sided defeat which triggered a wave of cyber-rage.

"I do not care. These boys can go to Istanbul (for the knockout stage). That's the most important thing," said Donewald, who has been savaged in Chinese Internet chatrooms.

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"It's a learning process. Scores do not mean anything. It's more important that the young players come out and play more games and fight hard."

China's 13 points in the first half and 40 were both embarrassing record lows for the country in international competition.

One furious fan wrote on leading portal sina.com.cn: "We advance to the next round in the most humiliating way."

Another slammed Donewald on sohu.com.

"He does not know China's culture," the poster wrote. "The CBA should terminate his contract right now.

"We showed a lack of sportsmanship to field such a team. It's disrespectful to the Turkish players."

Donewald was unrepentant after his team advanced despite a 1-4 record.

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"It's important that our starters have a rest," he insisted. "So I made the decision to have all the young boys on the court throughout the game. It was a great experience for them.

"Our young boys made lots of mistakes but that's something young guys must get through. That's something they will never forget."

China take on Lithuania on Tuesday when Donewald will bring back Yi Jianlian, Wang Zhizhi and guard Liu Wei, although Yi has been struggling with an inflamed Achilles tendon.

"We have had doctors evaluate his injury and we will know the result in the next one or two days," said Donewald.

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