FIBA Asia U18 Championship for Women): Now, are Japan and
China the two best teams deserving to contest the gold medal at the
21st FIBA Asia U18 Championship for Women? The answer is an emphatic yes. Will the better among the two be the
one to emerge as the champion? The answer is an obvious yes.
is that one team which the other doesn’t that might tilt the scales one way or
the other? That question can’t be answered in a monosyllable, or for that matter
in a cut-and-dry manner.
and Japan have contested the gold medal game five teams including the last three
occasions. China have won four of them including the one at the previous edition
at the 20th FIBA Asia U18 Championship for Women at Surat Thani (Thailand) in 2010. But history may remember the
current coach of the Japanese team was also the coach the girls from the Land of
Rising Sun won their maiden gold medal at the 19th FIBA Asia U18 Championship
for Women at Medan (Indonesia) in 2008.
as the Saturday evening fever grips Stadium Bandaraya will be two teams who have
shown amazing talent, absorbing temperament and an astounding ability to raise
their game when push comes to shove. These were the ingredients that took China
and Japan to win four out of five games in Level I, and took China to win their
fifth against Japan.
have relied to a large extent individual brilliance to spark a streak for their
quest of an unprecedented 13th gold medal, while Japan have shown some
remarkable team work in their attempt for only the second gold medal.
Isshiki carries a 18-2 record in three editions of this event, but both those
defeats have come against the Chinese, the most recent in the Level I Prelim
Round encounter here, when China clinched the issue 73-67 using their size
and strength to counter Japanese speed.
learnt a lot of lessons from that defeat,” said Isshiki.
had a consistent show so far. And we are getting well into our rhythm,” he added
after Japan defeated Chinese Taipei 113-55 in the semifinals on
what to expect,” countered China coach Li Xin after her team had scored an
equally facile 72-46 triumph against Korea in the earlier
have improved a lot from the previous game against Japan,” added the member of
the Chinese team that won the silver medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
Playmaker Yang Liwei has been lynchpin of the Chinese assault here.
The youngster shone only in patches in the Prelim Round games – and all China’s
wins came when she did – but the manner in which she struck a purple patch must
surely be a cause for worry for Japan.
Liting and Hu Yaoming have been their usual selves strutting their size and
strength with some solid inside play – although the latter’s penchant to run
into foul trouble is a thorn in China’s flesh – and Gong Li has been as gangling
Countering this is Japan’s sublime style led by Miyuki Kawamura and
Yunika Nakamura with some speedy support from the little Saori
Nakamura, who was elected to the All Stars at the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship for Women in Amsterdam (The Netherlands) only last month, where Japan finished
an impressive fourth has been used very sparingly by Isshiki. But she has
dazzled in the time she has got on court.
on the other hand, has started most of the games and been the bulwark of the
said, there always is a surprise element that’s involved in any gold medal game,
especially in one that involves the junior women’s team of Japan and Korea. That
element is what will cause the explosion to the gold!
Mageshwaran / FIBA Asia
Photo & Collage: Milad Payami / FIBA Asia