FIBA Women’s Asia Cup 2021 day four wrap
WITH the first round of games complete, the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup has now progressed to the qualification and classification stage. These matches kick off the ‘finals’ of the tournament, with not every team now able to advance to the next week. The qualification games are held between second place of division A and third place of division B, and vice versa, to determine which nations will advance to take on the top-seeded teams in each division in their respective semi-finals. The classification games are held between the lowest ranked team in each division facing off to determine who finishes in seventh and eighth position. With a rest day planned today, the advancing nations will be eager to recharge their batteries ahead of an exciting weekend of basketball action.
Korea (80) def. Chinese Taipei (74)
The qualification round opened with a thriller, as the Chinese Taipei fell agonisingly short of advancing to the semi-finals, with Korea proving too classy in the final minutes of the game. The game was a nail-biter for the first three quarters, with Korea jumping out to an early eight-point lead in the first quarter. This margin was maintained for the next period, with neither side gaining ascendancy in the second quarter. Korea entered the main break with a seven-point advantage over their opponents, but this did not last long. The Chinese Taipei emerged from half time with a hunger to win, as they chipped away at the margin throughout the third term, and at the end of the period, the game was tied. Korea looked to have lost all momentum, but their fortunes were boosted by a scoring drought to open the final quarter. Suddenly it was anyone’s game and Korea took full advantage of this, outscoring their opponents by six points to run away with the victory.
The two sides were hard to split in the statistical categories, with the Chinese Taipei even winning a few crucial areas, including rebounding and three-point percentage. Korea’s Hyejin Park was an outstanding contributor for her side, finishing the game with 22 points, four rebounds and four assists. Korea will take on China in Saturday’s semi-final.
Australia (72) def. New Zealand (61)
It was a tense battle between the neighbouring countries, but Australia proved too strong for New Zealand, gradually building a match winning lead on their way to a spot in the semi-finals. The game opened in cracking fashion, with a first quarter that saw impressive play and high scores. The two sides could not be separated at the first break, but New Zealand’s offence began to dry up as Australia maintained its high-scoring ways to grab a six-point lead heading into half-time. Once again, the third quarter belonged to the Opals, and while their scoring dropped off, with fatigue a likely factor given the amount of games in the last four days, their defence picked up the slack, holding their opponents to just 11 points for the term. The fourth quarter was more of the same, with the Aussies winning the term by a slim margin, but it was enough to drive them to a win.
New Zealand shot remarkably better from two-point territory, but the Opals were dominant from behind the arc, shooting 31 per cent better than their opponents from downtown. Once again, the Aussies were led by skipper Sami Whitcomb who stuffed the stat sheet with 29 points, seven rebounds, six assists and two steals. The Aussies will take on Japan in the first semi-final on Saturday night.
India (70) def by. Philippines (74)
Despite the lower stakes in this contest, fans were treated to a thriller, as the Philippines were able to secure the win in a thrilling contest overnight. India stormed out of the blocks with a powerful first term, taking a six-point lead into quarter-time, and suddenly the Philippines were aware they had a game on their hands. The second quarter saw high scoring, but neither team able to generate a match-winning run, with the India’s lead trimmed to five by the time the main break rolled around. The Philippines came out of half-time in some serious form, turning their five-point deficit into a three-point lead throughout the course of the third term. India were unable to conjure any offence as the Philippines ran riot. The fourth quarter was a much more even contest, but India couldn’t recapture their first-quarter form and were unable to regain the lead, as the Philippines secured the victory to claim seventh place for the tournament.
It was the Philippines ability to hold on to the ball that saw them secure an impressive comeback win, with their opponents conceding 25 points from turnovers. For the Philippines, Afril Bernardino did it all with nine points, 11 rebounds, seven assists, four steals and four blocks in a terrific performance to end the tournament.
Picture credit: FIBA