FIBA U-18: India defeats Hong Kong, moves to Division B final

India defeated Hong Kong to move to the FIBA U-18 Women’s Asian Championship final, where it will take on Kazakhstan — where the winner will earn promotion to Division A.

India's Aishwarya Janardhan (10) in action in the FIBA U18 women’s Asian Championship at the Sree Kanteerava Indoor Stadium in Bengaluru.   -  G.P. Sampath Kumar

India marched into the Division B final of the FIBA U-18 Women’s Asian Championship following a lopsided 83-38 victory over Hong Kong at the Sree Kanteerava Indoor Stadium here on Friday. India will play Kazakhstan for the title on Saturday, knowing a win will fetch promotion to Division A.

Not once did Hong Kong manage to ruffle the host, as it wilted under pressure. Harshitha Bopaiah continued her stupendous form this tournament with another double-double — 18 points and 16 rebounds — while T. Dharshini chipped in with 15 points, eight rebounds and five steals. Small forward Wing Nga Poon waged a lone battle for Hong Kong with 11 points.

Earlier, Japan produced a first-rate performance to fend off Australia 90-77 in the Division A semifinal. In the summit clash it will meet China, which convincingly beat Korea 69-51. China and Japan have sparred in the decider in each of the last six editions, with the former winning all but one.

On the day, Japan dominated Australia in every quarter except the second. It established a double-digit lead in no time and went into the second period leading 21-12. Australia succeeded in arresting the slide thanks to some intelligent play by forward Juliva Motuga (16 points) and shooting guard Miela Goodchild (26 points). When it took the lead (39-38) going into half-time, Japan, it seemed, had its task cut out.

The response from the Japanese was however breathtaking. They outscored Australia 30-12 in the third quarter as small forward Nanako Todo (21 points, 8 rebounds) wreaked havoc. Shooting guard Chinatsu Umeki’s pace and drive rattled Australia and by the end Japan led 22-12 on turnovers and 23-13 on fast break points. Forwards Ririka Okuyama (17 points, 10 rebounds) and Layla Takehara (10 points, 9 rebounds) were excellent throughout.

“We know that we are a shorter and smaller team,” said Umeki later. “So we had to be quick and not compete against them at the physical level. We used fast transitions and it worked for us.”

The results

Division A: Semifinals: China 69 bt Korea 51; Japan 90 bt Australia 77; Fifth place: New Zealand 75 bt Chinese Taipei 47.

Division B: India 83 (T. Dharshini 15, Harshitha Bopaiah 18, Pushpa Senthil Kumar 12, Srishti Suren 11, Ishwarya Janardhanan 10) bt Hong Kong 38 (Wing Nga Poon 11); Kazakhstan 76 bt Syria 56; Fifth place: Iran 63 bt Singapore 51.


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