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Korea, China confirm tickets to FIBA Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournaments as Japan tops Australia
AUCKLAND (New Zealand) & KUALA LUMPUR (Malaysia) - The last day of the FIBA Women’s Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournaments concluded with China advancing along with Korea to complete the quotas from the Asia-Oceania region.
Meanwhile, Japan won a statement game against Australia in Kuala Lumpur.
China secured their ticket outright form Auckland with a resounding 127-49 win over the Philippines. Han Xu led the way for China with 26 points on 10-17 shooting and 9 rebounds, though all 11 fielded players scored at least 6 points.
It was a more tightly contested game between Korea and New Zealand with plenty more on the line for both teams.
Hosts New Zealand not only needed a win to qualify, they needed a win by at least 12 points over Korea who were heading in with confidence. Fired up and motivated with the presence of the crowd, the Tall Ferns held Korea under 10 points well into the second quarter and commanded a lead by as much as 18 points in the first half.
However, it was just not meant to be as Korea powered their way back into the game. Even though they were dealt a 69-65 loss at the end, it was enough for Korea to hold on to their ticket to the Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournaments next year.
The turning point of the game was when Park Ji Su hobbled off the court with an injury late in the fourth quarter. Korea looked rattled without their star center and New Zealand continued to press on with their lead.
It was when Park returned onto the court that boost the morale of the team and fired them up for a strong finish. Park did a little bit of everything for Korea with 11 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 blocks while Kang Leeseul was on fire with 21 points on a perfect 5-5 shooting from downtown.
New Zealand rode on strong performances by Penina Davidson who impressed with 24 points, 15 boards, 3 assists, and 3 blocks, despite falling short of the team’s goals.
China, Korea, and New Zealand all finished with 2-1 records in Group A. However, it was China and Korea who held the tiebreakers to lock down the two qualifying spots for the FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournaments.
Group B action in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia started with Chinese Taipei claiming their sole win of the tournament over India, 79-56. All players got on the scoreboard for Chinese Taipei with Chen Wei-An topping all of her teammates with 20 points on 6-9 shooting from the field.
The last game of the event concluded with Japan extending their success against Australia with an 82-69 win.
With previous losses to Japan in FIBA Women's Asia Cup 2017 and 2019, the Opals came into the game motivated to exact their revenge. They ended up failing once again as their rivals jumped out to a 30-point first quarter and never looked back.
Despite being out-rebounded 50-38, Japan rained it in from downtown with 14 threes to build up a lead as big as 17 points and went away with the victory. Their legendary point guard Asami Yoshida made her return out of retirement worthwhile with a classic 15-point, 5-assist outing in just 15 minutes of action.
Liz Cambage had recently put up 37 points and 10 rebounds the last time she played against Japan at the Rio 2016 Olympics, but was slightly limited this time around. The Opals star center still put up a good game of 17 points on 7-11 shooting and 6 rebounds, but it was not enough to keep Australia's record unblemished.