CHENNAI (23rd FIBA Asia Women Championship) - Japan played solidly in the closing moments and defeated a familiar, but fierce, Chinese Taipei 73-65 in a pivotal Level I game on Thursday.
Yuko Oga played all the 40 minutes of the game and obviously was the decisive force for the Japanese, who are here on a quest to retain at least their bronze medal – and regain their chance to represent FIBA Asia in the 2010 FIBA World Championship.
“It was our first game and we were probably facing the toughest opponent in the opener,” said Fumikazu Nakagawa.
“That was the reason for us to play Yuko without a break. Also they (Chinese Taipei) were always pecking on our heels,” he added.
Ryoko Utsumi – one of Oga’s teammates at Incheon two year ago – sparkled with in her attempts on the paint.
Utsumi fired in all her five two-pointer attempts, and converted three of the five three-pointers, to tally a 21-point game.
Chinese Taipei did rather well, as they always have against Japan, but failed at the crucial junctures.
“It happens,” said Chinese Taipei coach Lin Hung Ling-Yao.
“When the two teams know each other so well, and are equally equipped it always boils down to a couple of shots,” the veteran coach said.
Li Wan-Ting and Liu Chun-yi shared the scoring honours for Taipei with 12 points each.
Introduction to 2009 FIBA Asia Women Championship
The 23rd FIBA Asia Women Championship will feature 12 teams – divided into two levels.
The top three teams from Level I will book their ticket to the 2010 FIBA World Championship for Women scheduled to be held in Czech Republic from Sept 23 to Oct 3, 2010.
This will be the first time India will host the FIBA Asia Women Championship.
Korea hold the record for the maximum number of appearances – having participated in all the 22 Championships so far.
Korea have also won a medal in all the 22 Championships winning the gold medal a staggering 12 times, the latest being at the 22nd FIBA Asia Women Championship when they hosted the event in Incheon in 2007.
Asian basketball powerhouse China have won nine gold medals in 17 appearances followed by Japan with 18 medals – including one gold – in 21 appearances.
Chinese Taipei complete the East Asian dominance in the FIBA Asia Women Championship, with nine medals in 17 appearances.
In fact, starting from the 1986 edition of the Championship the foursome have finished in the top four in all the Championships.
Thailand are the only country to have won a medal apart from these four countries.
China, Korea and Chinese Taipei were the three teams to represent FIBA Asia in the 2006 FIBA World Championship for women in Brazil.