BEIJING : China’s women’s basketball team claimed their first FIBA Asia Cup title since 2011 after beating defending champions Japan 73-71 in a close final in Sydney, Australia on Sunday.
World number two China, runners-up at last year’s world cup, were one of the pre-tournament favourites with the ninth-ranked Japan, who had won the previous five editions of the biannual competition run by the sport’s world governing body FIBA.
Han Xu topscored for China with 26 points while team mate Li Meng scored 17, including two from free throws with five seconds left to leave them at 73-68.
That left Japan, who scored a three-pointer with one second left on the clock, with too much to do.
The teams were level after the first quarter at 17-17, but in the second, Japan raced to a 35-26 lead. China hit back in the third and were three points adrift at 51-48 in the next before a strong finish took them to victory.
The win will boost China’s hopes for the Asian Games, which takes place in the Eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou in September and they will also set their sights on winning a medal at next summer’s Paris Olympics.