FIBA Women's Asia Cup 2017: Japan makes it two in two

Yoshida, regarded as one of the best playmakers in the continent, stood out as a supreme athlete.

The 5’ 5” Asami Yoshida had the sparse crowd on its feet, when she leaped over the sideline to retrieve a loose pass.   -  K. Murali Kumar

Japan underlined its contender status by posting a second successive victory, in Division A of the FIBA Asia women’s cup on Monday. The powerhouse unit outran and outplayed South Korea 70-56 at the Sree Kanteerava Indoor Stadium here.

The quick-footed Japan side, led by energetic point guard Asami Yoshida, set the pace early. The full-court press was used to good effect, which resulted in plenty of fast-break points. Yoshida, regarded as one of the best playmakers in the continent, stood out as a supreme athlete. The 5’ 5” hoopster had the sparse crowd on its feet, when she leaped over the sideline to retrieve a loose pass. Not
only did she reach the ball, but she managed to pull off a no-look pass - while in the air - to an open teammate.

Yoshida recorded eight assists in all, while the scoring duties were handled by Moeka Nagaoka (13 points), Fujioka Manami (14 pts) and Takada Maki (10 pts).

A small group of South Korean supporters brought some welcome energy to the largely lifeless venue. The fans, students from Seoul who are in the city on an exchange programme, rallied behind the North Korean side as well. Asked if the two countries share good relations, one of the students replied, “There may be problems on the political level, but as far as we are concerned, North Koreans are our friends.” Despite receiving some unexpected support, North Korea went down to New Zealand 50-71.

Later in the day, China shut out Chinese Taipei 102-63. China, on the back of an all-round show, recorded a second-straight win. Small forward Shao Ting – she had received an invitation to train with WNBA team Minnesota Lynx earlier this year, but could not make the final cut - put up 11 points. While most China internationals are products of Government-run sports schools, Shao has followed an unusual path to the top. “Shao was never part of the government system. She went to university and then joined the National team. She is a doctoral student of Beijing Normal University, which is remarkable,” China assistant coach Michele Timms explained.

The results:

Division A:

Australia 107 (Sara Blicavs  17, Stephanie Cumming 18, Katie-Rae Ebzery 12, Alanna Smith 12, Lauren Mansfield 12, Laura Hodges 10) bt Phillipines 65 (Janine Pontejos 18, May Lim 11); New Zealand 71 (Harmon Jillian 23, Micaela Cocks 16, Kalani Purcell 11, Antonia Edmondson 10) bt North Korea 50 (Hyang Jong 17, Suk Yong 15); Japan 70 (Moeko Nagaoka 13, Manami Fujioka 14, Maki Takada 10) bt South Korea 56 (Hui Yung Lim 12, Hana Park 10, Yeong Joo Kwak 12); China 102 (Huang Sijing 25, Li Yueru 19, Huang Hongpin 15, Shao Ting 11, Shen Yi 10, Gao Song 10) bt Chinese Taipei 63 (Huang Ping-Jen 13, Lin Yu-Ting
12).

Division B:

Lebanon 118 (Nour Schoucair 21, Chirine El Charif 13, Miramar Mokdad 14) bt Fiji 48 (Bulou Koyamainavure 13, Seini Dobui 12); Kazakhstan 73 (Tamara Yagodkina 16, Oxana Ossipenko 14, Zalina Kurazova 15, Oxana Ivanova 10) bt Singapore 52 (Cheryl Poon 15, Jacqueline Chu 13).

Tuesday’s matches:

At Sree Kanteerava Stadium: Division A: New Zealand vs Chinese Taipei (11 a.m.), Japan vs Australia (1.15 p.m.); South Korea vs Philippines (3.30 p.m.), North Korea vs China (5.45 p.m.). Division B: Sri Lanka vs India (8 p.m.).

At Koramangala Stadium: Division B: Kazakhstan vs Fiji (3 p.m.); Lebanon vs Singapore (6 p.m.).

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