FIBA Women's Asia Cup: Japan becomes third nation to complete a four-peat

After a stellar show against Australia, Nako Motohashi starred for Japan once more with 24 points and eight assists.

Published : Sep 29, 2019 22:04 IST , Bengaluru

Japan's title win is a big step towards doing well at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Japan's title win is a big step towards doing well at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Japan's title win is a big step towards doing well at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Japan become the third nation to complete a four-peat in the FIBAWomen's Asia Cup Division-A basketball tournament, with an exciting71-68 victory over China in the final at Sree Kanteerava IndoorStadium on Sunday.

South Korea and China are the other twonations to have achieved this feat.

The summit clash went down tothe last play, with Japan leading by three points. Chinese forwardShao Ting failed to convert a rushed three-point attempt, sendingthe Japanese expats in the big crowd into raptures.

READ : FIBA includes India in the pre-qualifying Olympic tournament

Japan pointguard Nako Motohashi (24 points, 8 assists) was at her best onceagain, weaving in and out of the Chinese defence and making crucialplays. Once Motohashi got the first step on her marker, there wasno stopping her.

Captain Maki Takada (14 points, 9 rebounds) waseffective on both ends of the floor. It was a Takada three-pointerin the third quarter which gave Japan its first lead of the match.

Shooting guard Saki Hayashi made an instant impression coming offthe bench, nailing three shots from beyond the arc to reduceChina's early lead.

Chinese centre Xu Han, who will feature for NewYork Liberty in the upcoming WNBA season, showed wonderful shootingtouch and footwork to record 18 points. The 6' 9" hoopster was anintimidating presence on defence, making four thunderous blocks.

The night, and the tournament, belonged to Motohashi, who was namedthe 'Most Valuable Player'.

READ : Motohashi's heroics help Japan down Australia

Around 18 months ago, she was not partof the national team set up, and played for a unheralded club. In ashort space of time, she has transformed into a pure scoringmachine.

"I'm happy that everyone has now got the chance to see howgood Motohashi is. She has a wonderful story of overcoming a lot ofhardships," Japan coach Tom Havasse, who along with his playerswore 'Japan four-peat champion' T-shirts at the post-match pressconference, said.

The former Atlanta Hawks player added that thistitle win is a big step towards doing well at the 2020 TokyoOlympics.

China coach Limin Xu said, "We brought a young team toBengaluru. We managed to defeat a strong Australian in the groupstage, and ran Japan close. We're proud of our performance. Thefuture of Chinese basketball is bright."

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