FIBA Women’s Asia Cup 2021 final wrap
AFTER a week of high quality basketball action, the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup has wrapped up proceedings for 2021 from Amman, Jordan. Despite many teams putting in outstanding performances, there can unfortunately be one deserving winner, and in fitting fashion, the deciding match delivered a thrilling contest. With the final making headlines for the last night of play, basketball fans were also treated to a qualifying match to determine third place. The top four teams have qualified for next year’s FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup to be held in Australia, so all teams that competed in last night’s matches will have achieved their goal.
Japan (78) def. China (73)
The big dance lived up to its name on Sunday night, with Japan delivering a spectacular last quarter comeback to defeat China and claim their fifth title in a row. Heading into this game, there was plenty of buzz given this match-up was a rematch of the previous title game, with China desperate to switch the result to their favor. The contest opened in high-scoring fashion, with just two points separating the sides at quarter time, with China leading 21-19. The game looked set to be a thriller, and these suspicions were confirmed in the second period, where China extended their lead by just one point. While they had not led all game, Japan were only a three-pointer away from tying the game up as they headed into the main break. China emerged from half-time eager to maintain and extend their slim lead, but they were only able to stretch it out to five points by the time the buzzer sounded to end the third term. The momentum of the game looked in China’s favor, but Japan saved their best for last, delivering a dominant final term. Despite trailing the entire game, Japan produced a remarkable 10-point turnaround in the last quarter, and the result was sealed by a Monica Okoye layup in the final minute of the game.
It was difficult to split the teams based on shooting efficiency, which is a reflection of how tight the game was for the entirety of the contest. China won most of the key stats, but it was their inability to hold on to the ball that cost them in the final term. Japan were able to grab 10 steals to China’s one, and that resulted in plenty of fast break play. Japan’s Saori Miyazaki produced one of the strongest individual performances of the tournament, filling the stat sheet with 26 points, seven rebounds and 11 assists as her side’s best on the day.
Australia (88) def. Korea (58)
A complete four-quarter performance saw Australia claim third place for the tournament overall, after defeating Korea by 30 points on Sunday night. The Opals would have been left disappointed, following their semi-final loss to the eventual champions, and the classification match was the perfect opportunity for the Aussies to show that they still plan on being a threat when the World Cup rolls around in 2022. Australia played with intensity from the very first possession, dominating Korea for all four quarters, and never allowing their opponents to gather any offensive rhythm. While the contest was close in the first quarter, the Opals broke away in the final three quarters, outscoring their opponents by a considerable margin on their way to claiming a bronze medal.
Australia shot better percentages from both inside and outside the three-point line, which makes sense, given the lopsided score by the time the final buzzer sounded. Unsurprisingly, the Opals dominated the key stats such as rebounds and defensive plays. It was Aussie captain Sami Whitcomb who once again dominated for her side, pouring in 15 points, nine rebounds and eight assists with a near triple-double performance.
Photo credit: FIBA