Basketball: Japan Women Claim Title at Asian Championships

Japan was able to repeat its performance from 2013 by winning the 2015 Women’s Asian Basketball Championships. The tournament is split into two levels; a first and second level where teams fight for promotion and avoid being relegated. With this format only the six teams in the first level will have a chance to qualify to the Olympics with the winner booking their spot. The Women’s Asian Basketball Championship was held in Wuhan, China from August 29th to September 5th 2015.

In the second level tournament it was North Korea whom returned from nearly a decade of inactivity that surprised a lot of people as wins over Malaysia and Kazakhstan sent them to the promotion match. They were however defeated by the Philippines where a strong fourth quarter gave them a narrow 68-67 victory which ended up being a decider as they finished first in the group to also advance to the promotion match.

Japan’s win over South Korea got things going in the first level tournament as the fourth quarter proved to be the difference maker in the match as Japan won 59-53. The most exciting match of the round however was the match between Japan and China where a close match throughout the four quarters ended with a game winning basket by Japan with about three seconds remaining, giving them the 57-56 win and ultimately winning the group. China, South Korea and Chinese Taipei all advanced to the semifinals while Thailand and India had to play in the promotion match in order to stay at the top level.

The first promotion match between Thailand and North Korea was a close affair until the middle of the third quarter where a flurry of baskets and a lack of response by Thailand gave North Korea the 66-50 win and promotion. The other match between India and the Philippines began with India taking the lead, but the Philippines bounced back in the second quarter to take a 39-37 lead at half-time. The Philippines used the momentum to gain a 12 point lead after the third and while India attempted to comeback they simply ran out of time as the Philippines were promoted after winning by a score of 82-76.

The first semi-final between Japan and Chinese Taipei was a dream start for Japan as they took a double digit lead in the first. However, in the second quarter Chinese Taipei was able to get back into the game leaving the score 34-33 Japan at half-time. Chinese Taipei was able to complete the comeback in the third and was able to maintain a lead, but strong pushes from Japan combined with a long goalless stretch for Chinese Taipei in the fourth quarter gave Japan the 65-58 win. The other semi-final was dominated by China as they had complete control over South Korea over the first three quarters taking a 47-22 lead. South Korea had a great performance in the final quarter, but at that time China was resting its best players as they were already thinking about the final. China won the match 60-45.

In the final Japan and China began the match close, but by mid-first quarter Japan began to open up the game. Over the match Japan led by Sanae Motokawa (20 points) kept increasing its lead to the point where they were doubling China’s point total at several parts of the match. In the end Japan won the tournament and a spot at the Olympics via score of 85-50. For the bronze medal match South Korea was able to keep a slim, but stable lead for almost the entire match as they won 52-45.

The bronze medal was important for South Korea because it allows them and runner up China to compete at the final Olympic qualification tournament to be held just before the Olympics. This will also be Japan’s first participation in women’s basketball since the 2004 Olympics.

Tournament Rankings

  1. Japan
  2. China
  3. South Korea
  4. Chinese Taipei
  5. Thailand
  6. India
  7. Philippines
  8. North Korea
  9. Kazakhstan
  10. Malaysia
  11. Hong Kong
  12. Sri Lanka

References

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