29 August, 2015
05 September
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Maher seeks change in mentality

BEIJING (2015 FIBA Asia Women's Championship) - As the dust settles on the 2015 FIBA Asia Women's Championship, there is much for disappointed host nation China and head coach Tom Maher to reflect on.

The true impact and pain of such an overwhelming 85-50 loss in the Final against Japan is only now truly sinking in.

The traditionally dominant powerhouse of the region, China will be without the FIBA Asia crown for at least six years and that hurts.

Especially after losing to their big rivals Japan in such a brutal and unforgiving manner in front of their stunned supporters.

Worryingly, things could get even worse if their Olympic dreams are extinguished next June.

However on the flip-side, some particularly sore wounds could heal much more quickly if China can bounce back at next year's FIBA Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament (WOQT) and take one of the five coveted spots on offer for the Rio Games.

In order for that to happen, a change in mentality is required - or at least according to Maher.

He is hoping that the fear factor of expectation will be shed, having watched his team fail to react to the pressure in a ponderous and impotent Final display.

"The Japan team played very well and much better than when we faced them in the group stage," conceded the play-caller.

"They were so accurate in their shooting and after the first quarter had reached something like 66 percent.

I think we played the game with a psychological burden. - Maher

"Our defense was poor and we made errors in the half-court and at the offensive end.

"We had chances to narrow the score but the Japan team kept taking their fast-break opportunities.

"We had no burden on our shoulders at the FIBA Women's World Championship last year [when finishing sixth] - we just played well.

"But this time against fellow Asian opposition in Japan, Korea and Chinese Taipei, we appeared to be in a tense situation almost every time we were on the court."

We have to learn how to deal with adversity. - Shao

His words were echoed by leading player Ting Shao, whose place in the All-Star Five was scant consolation for such a gut-wrenching end to the competition.

"I think we might have had a pressure situation on us when we went behind," she accepted.

"But we are a young team and still growing.

And, with Rio participation now hanging in the balance, both Maher and his leading light have some serious work to do in order to get their Olympic dream back on track and make up for a truly nightmare finish to the action in Wuhan.