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A to Z of the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup 2017
NEWCASTLE (Paul Nilsen’s Women’s Basketball Worldwide) – The dust has settled on the FIBA Women's Asia Cup 2017 and here is my A to Z rundown of the event.
A is for All-Star Five of Kelsey Griffin, Manami Fujioka, Moeko Nagaoka, Yueru Li and Lim YungHui.
B is for Bengaluru and a big thanks to the hosts as always and the Basketball Federation of India!
C is for China who I was surprised were celebrating so avidly when they took bronze. It’s certainly no disgrace to finish behind Japan and Australia, but seeing the selfies just didn’t ring true. This is China – now a confirmed former powerhouse.
D is for drama as both the Division A and B Finals were decided in the closing seconds by narrow and thrilling margins.
E is for experiment to coach by Skype [not literally, but you get my point] by Australia, which was exposed. Why did they not just appoint an interim coach and make the nice appointment of Sandy Brondello after this event leading up to Tokyo 2020? So bizarre they announced a coach and in the same breath, said she couldn't coach - then parachuted in someone weeks before the event.
F is for Fiji and the Pacific Islanders getting the win they craved against Sri Lanka after a really troubling start during their opening games.
G is for go and check out the great highlights videos of the event and some equally great commentary from my esteemed fellow columnist Jeff Taylor!
H is for Hovasse, Japan’s triumphant winning coach. Great job by him in the big moments.
I is for India who celebrated promotion in a heart-stopping and thrilling fashion with that comeback victory against Kazakhstan on the Final day. Division A was the target and mission was accomplished!
J is for Japan the champions. Just wonderful to watch and while much has been made of Australia missing players, they did it without a few of their own including their heartbeat Ramu Tokashiki.
K is for Korea whose anticipated demise did not necessarily arrive and helped by Lim YungHui, they made it to the Semi-Finals which was a decent finish.
L is for Limaye the Indian star who was just 16 when she first played at the event back in 2011. Four editions later and Shireen Limaye won cult status in Bengaluru with that amazing 17 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists in the Final.
M is for MVP Kelsey Griffin who didn’t deserve to be on the losing team and she had a great tournament for the Opals.
N is for New Zealand as arguably the most disappointing team at the tournament. The Tall Ferns had hoped to be hugely competitive but didn’t convince at all. Big defeats to China, Korea and a last day loss to Chinese Taipei were low points.
O is for Opals and the runaway favorites who didn’t win a Continental title for the first time in decades. They came close, but ultimately failed with major question marks over their coaching strategy and roster selection.
P is for Park Jisu of Korea who was used properly in this competition. She has been forced to play far too many minutes in the past and 24 minutes per game felt balanced. Her numbers stacked up nicely as a result and she looked like she was having fun again.
Q is for 'Queen Of Steals' Ping-Jen Hunag of Chinese Taipei who had 6 more than her nearest rival with almost 3 per game which is intense!
R is for referees who I thought didn’t do Australia many favors in the Final during the closing minutes of the Final. I found myself saying foul? Foul? Several times in crunch time. But what do I know?
S is for sell-out home crowd in Bengaluru and what better way to repay them than with a thrilling promotion success in an amazing comeback game!
T is for three-peat for Japan. I don’t care if some people think it is a new competition and it's year zero. Japan have won three consecutive Continental titles. That is a fact. That is a three-peat.
U is for under the radar Alanna Smith, whose very encouraging debut for the Opals should not be hidden by their failure to win. The fact she was not even on the original roster was simply baffling to me.
V is for velocity of Manami Fujioka who played at breakneck speed and still handed out a mind-blowing 8.2 assists per game. Astonishing.
W is for when statistics don’t mean much. China didn’t even make the Final but had the best field goal percentage, most points per game, most assists, most rebounds, most steals and most blocks.
X is for ‘X-Factor’ and that came from Saki Mizushima who chose a perfect time to drop a joint-high tournament best seven triples in the title game!
Y is for Yueru Li who was the one very, very bright spark for China. The teenager is a star in the making and had a superb senior tournament debut. Hats off!
Z is for zest and that is something Chinese Taipei bring to the table even if their quality is not quite up to podium standard. They are fun to watch.
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