Cinderella stories set to collide as Samoa, Syria win in Semi-Finals
AMMAN (Jordan) - The results of the Semi-Finals set up the stage for a historic Final, as Samoa and Syria advance to the last stage of the FIBA U16 Women’s Asian Championship 2022 Division B.
Both teams headed into the Semi-Finals matchups as “underdogs” considering they were the under-seeded teams coming out of the Group Phase. The Philippines and Lebanon were both the top seed in their groups and had a direct spot in the Semi-Finals, while Syria and Samoa finished second and third place in Group A.
The first matchup in the Semi-Finals resulted in a massive upset as Samoa defeated the Philippines, 88-73.
The two teams had just played against each other three days early in the Group Phase where it was the Philippines that took the massive victory, 94-65. That win secured the top seed for the Philippines in the Group, propelling them directly to the Semi-Finals, while Samoa dropped to third and had to play in the Qualifying Round to the Semi-Finals.
After upsetting Kazakhstan, Samoa continued their "Cinderella" run by dealing the Philippines their first loss.
The Philippines only took the lead for a quick 17 seconds in the first quarter, before Samoa broke away in the second quarter and never looked back. Even though Samoa saw their lead of as big as 27 points chipped away down to as little as 13 points, they were still able to remain composed and seal the deal at the buzzer.
Samoa were dominant on the boards, just as they had been in the previous matchup, out-rebounding their opponents, 72-39. The difference this time was the ability of Samoa’s stars to finish. The team shot 45.1 percent in the game, a huge uptick from 30.8 percent from the previous game. Meanwhile, the Philippines struggled, especially from long range where they made 5 three-pointers less in this losing effort compared to when they won on approximately the same attempts.
This was by far the best game in the tournament from Kira-May Filemu who had 36 points, 15 rebounds, and 4 assists, good for an efficiency rating of 36. This was the first game that Filemu shot over 50 percent and was just shy of tying the all-time single game scoring record in the U16 Women’s Asian Championship that was set earlier in Division A by Australia’s Isla Juffermans.
She wasn’t the only player to impress as Sienna Tutani recorded a rare triple-double of 11 points, 18 rebounds, and 10 assists. Not to be outshined by her teammates, team leader Azaleeah Oloapu put up 18 points, 19 rebounds, and 7 assists.
The Philippines had three players score in double-digits, led by Nami Natalie Panganiban (15 points) and Ava Fajardo (14 points). Leading scorer Kritan Yumul also surpassed double digit scoring with 13 points but shot only 3-15 from the three-point line after being on fire in the previous three games.
The second pair in the Semi-Finals also resulted in an upset as Syria flipped the script to beat Lebanon, 78-63.
Lebanon actually had a better start out of the gates, building up a lead of as big as 9 points in the first quarter. However, Syria picked up the pace and got back in the game which was tightly contested through the second and third quarter.
The turning point was the start of the fourth quarter, where Syria held Lebanon scoreless for over five minutes, turning that into a 20-0 scoring run to blow the gap wide open. Laila Hasah Agha was the star during this stretch, knocking down 5 of her 7 three-pointers in the fourth quarter alone. She’d finish the game as the leading scorer with 28 points to go with 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals.
The sharpshooter put the nail in the coffin when she banked in a desperation heave with less than 30 seconds in the game for her last three-pointer.
Aya Almohammad continue to be a strong contributor for the team with 10 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals.
The star for Lebanon was Maygen Naassan who had 14 points, 8 points, 3 assists, 3 steals, and 3 blocks before fouling out of the game.
The Final of the U16 Women’s Asian Championship 2022 Division B will therefore be between Samoa and Syria. The two teams faced each other in the Group Phase, with Syria coming out on top, 75-63.
Meanwhile, the Philippines will play against Lebanon for third-place.