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Jubilant Japan defend title to book Rio trip
WUHAN (2015 FIBA Asia Women's Championship) - Japan are celebrating consecutive FIBA Asia Women's Championship titles for the first time ever after tearing past tournament hosts China, 85-50, in Wuhan to climb back to the top of the podium and seal their place at next year's Olympic Games in Rio.
Turning Point: Japan were rampant in the first half as they stormed their way into a commanding 44-22 lead. The extra twist of the knife via a triple in the closing seconds by Sanae Motokawa was hugely important as it really did seem to deflate China heading to the locker rooms. And so it proved, as Japan returned to outscore their opponents 10-2 at the start of the third period.
Stats don't lie: There were so many to choose from and especially at half-time, when the superiority of Japan had seen them out-perform China 10-0 in fast-break points and also shot a fantastic 61.3 percent at the basket. By the end of the game, Japan had outscored China 41-14 in the paint and it was the latter figure which was most critical and underlined some terrific defense which locked their opponents down.
Game Heroes: There were stellar contributions from Motokawa who racked up 24 points, Ramu Tokashiki weighed in with 18 points and 7 rebounds, while playmaker Asami Yoshida had 11 points, 7 assists and 4 steals.
The Bottom Line: The jury will be out after China's failure to capture the title. They lost twice to Japan in the competition and during this title game, they had no answer whatsoever to the swarming defense, quickness and incredible transition of Japan which tore them to shreds. China arguably had a lack of experience two years ago in Thailand, but with a FIBA Women's World Championship behind them and an incredibly extensive preparation period, the mission was to regain the title they relinquished in 2013. Now they must try to make amends via the FIBA Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament. Japan, meanwhile, will be overjoyed after building on their title success from Bangkok, which was their first in more than four decades. They played wonderfully well and saved their best until last as they defended their crown for the first time. Full of energy, confidence and playing so well as a team unit in defence, they will now head back to the Olympic Games for the first time since 2004 - and fans heading to Rio will love being able to watch their high-octane and entertaining style of play.