Bengaluru, 3 Nov 2018: A resilient China made it a repeat feat, a five-peat, so to say. The Asian giants won the 24th FIBA Asia Women’s (Under-18) Basketball Championships 2018 despite the addition of Oceania teams Australia and New Zealand this year to make it five in a row as the age-group meet concluded at Sree Kanteerava Indoor Stadium here on Saturday. China beat Japan 89-76.
China faltered on the way and appeared to lose the battle but used their second chance to qualify for the final and bounced back in style to win the title again. Australian Gems, who too started as favourites could not keep up the momentum after a crucial loss to Korea by a point. They began well but struggled to handle the speed and guile of the Asian teams and could only finish third. However, both China and Australia along with Korea and Japan have qualified for the Under 19 World Cup to be held in Thailand next year.
For China it is the 16th time in their chequered history to win the tournament in 20 appearances in the final while it was Japan’s 12th final.
China and Japan dished out a veritable feast with their pace and agility and had the crowd gasping for breath. Some splendid down-the-flank attacks and drives through the middle enthralled the spectators. Coupled with this field play their excellent shooting skills were also on show.
Apart from the accurate long shots, they also managed to dip the ball into the net with their swirling lobs. The ball would dance on the rim, bounce to the side and then dip in to the delight of their supporters.
While Japan kept up the pressure, their tendency to find the basket at full speed saw them miss a few of them. China were the more organised and controlled the pace. They were a lot more composed and finished off their moves a lot better.
China’s Yuan Li, Zhuo Za Fang, a surprise packet who was rested for long in the event and the ever consistent Mingling Chen, who was not allowed much leeway by the Japanese, kept up China’s pressure all along. Japan had Nanako Todo, Chinatsu Umeki and Ririka Okuyama to bolster them up. These rising stars ensured that the exciting contest never had a dull moment.
Nevertheless, the teams managed to match one another move for move, basket for basket and a three-pointer for a three-pointer in double quick time and virtually off the very next move. Naturally, the scores were level at 17-17, 26-26, 30-30, 36-36. But slowly but surely China began to pull away.
They had a seven-point lead which increased to ten by the third quarter. Once they were ahead by ten points, they reduced the pace considerably to unsettle the Japanese. China’s Yuan Li, the top scorer with 28 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, was their driving force as she managed to barge in with some splendid solo runs and topped it with accurate baskets.
Japan had Chinatsu Umeki replicate what the Chinese No 5 Yuan Li did and at an, even more, faster pace. But then saw the Japanese tire out a bit faster too.
It served China’s interests well and they ensured that the lead only got thicket to eventually win at 89-76.
Australia rallied to defeat Korea Republic 75-58 in the third place play-off match with Meila Goodchild once again being their top scorer with 21 points.
RESULTS: DIVISION A;
Final: China 89 (Yuan Li 28, Zhuo Ya Fang 17, Mingling Chen 13) beat Japan 76 (Chinatsu Umeki 20, Nanako Todo 14, Noriko Konno 11); (19-22, 19-18, 24-12, 27-28).
3rd and 4th Place
Korea Republic 58 (Haeran Lee 17) vs Australia 75 (Meila Goodchild 21)
(8-12, 20-16, 21-26, 9-21).
CHINA —————————- 1
JAPAN —————-————- 2
AUSTRALIA ——————— 3
KOREA REPUBLIC —— — 4
NEW ZEALAND —————- 5
CHINESE TAIPEI ——— — 6
INDONESIA ———————- 7
MALAYSIA ———————- 8