CHINA'S women's basketball team was beaten by Australia's reigning champion, Bendigo in Friday night's clash on the Spirit's court.
After dominating most of the second quarter, China led 41-31 at half-time.
Fortunes then swung dramatically early in the third quarter as a fired-up Spirit went on an 11-nil run to draw within a point.
Strong defence and sweet-shooting by the likes of Spirit stars Kelly Wilson, Kelsey Griffin and Gabe Richards put Bendigo well in control.
By the end of third quarter, Bendigo led 64-59.
The Bernie Harrower-coached Spirit won the final quarter, 19-12, and the match, 83-71.
Leading scorers for Bendigo were Richards 20, Griffin 18, Wilson 18, and Chelsea Aubry 11.
China's attack was led by Song Gao 14, Jia Cen Liu 12, Xiao Jia Chen 12, and Shuang Zhao 11.
"Tonight was a great hit-out for us," said victorious coach Bernie Harrower.
"We spoke a lot about efforts at the half-time break and really lifted in the second half.
"China outplayed us for a lot of the first half, so we really had to lift our efforts in defence and attack."
Two Australian basketball legends - Tom Maher and Michelle Timms - are coach and assistant coach respectively of China's team.
Spirit heads north to play Townsville in the season tip-off next Friday night.