LOGAN, Australia (24th FIBA Asia Championship for Women): China women’s National Team preparing to defending its gold medal at the 24th FIBA Asia Championship for Women in Omura-Nagasaki from Aug 21-28, gave a good account of itself, but went down fighting 67-73 to Jayco Opals in the first game of their tour of Australia on Sunday.
China under Sun Fengwu will play a five-game series including three against the Carrie Graf-trained Australia’s National Team – Jayco Opals. China’s next game is against WNBL team Logan Thunder on Monday.
Australia seized the advantage of the home conditions and raced ahead 21-15 at the end of the first quarter, but Nu Xuo, Zhao Shuang and Gao Song combined well enough to help China cut down the deficit to four by the end of the first half.
Ma Zhengyu (pic above) spearheaded China in the third quarter reeling in 7 points, including a scorching long-ranger, as the defending FIBA Asia champions went into lead and closed the third quarter 52-51 ahead.
Ma Zhengyu went on to lead China’s scoring with 15 points and also had 5 rebounds.
China went ahead by three mid-way through the last quarter, but Hanna Zavecz and Rachael Flanagan combined to get the hosts back in front, with twice Olympic silver medalist Suzy Batkovic also playing a major role in the fight back.
Into the final moments, which could have gone either way, Batkovic stepped up to the foul-line six times and converted four time to cap the win.
Ji Yanyan had 13 points. Nan Chen chipped in with 9 points. Gao Song and veteran Miao Lijie had had 8 points each, the latter also dishing out 8 assists.
Flanagan’s 14 points was the highest for the Opals. Batkovic scored a dozen points.
At the 24th FIBA Asia Championship for Women, China will compete with hosts Japan, traditional rivals Korea, fellow East Asian powerhouse Chinese Taipei, India and Lebanon in the elite Level I of the competition.
The winners of the 24th FIBA Asia Championship for Women will qualify for the 2012 London Olympics while the second and third placed teams will get a place in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying tournament.