BANGKOK, Thailand (FIBA Asia U18 Championship for Women 2016) – China entered the FIBA Asia U18 Championship for Women as defending champions, and are now leaving it as champions for the fourth consecutive time after beating Japan, 78-47, in the grand finale.
The Akatsuki Five tried to stay in the game for as long as possible, but coach Hitoshi Takahashi's girls last threatened at half-time when they trailed, 33-24.
Turning point: The Asian champions found themselves tied with their rivals at 22-all halfway through the second quarter, but the Chinese upped their performance immediately at that point, taking a 9-point lead before heading to mid-game break. The defending champions broke the game open in the third period, and the rest, as they say, was history.
Stats don’t lie: China, as usual, outrebounded their opponents, 51-27, thanks mainly to Li Yueru’s 23 boards. They were the better side on assists, too, handing out 11 compared to Japan's 4.
Game hero(es): Li Yueru had the finest performance in this championship game, scoring 22 points and grabbing 23 rebounds. Teammate Wang Jiaqi didn’t fall short as well, scoring a game high 29 points alongside her 6 boards and 8 assists.
The bottom line: China's fourth consecutive title run underscores the consistently high level of competitiveness to which the youngsters in the country are exposed. The most complete team in the tournament proved, once again, how excelling in all positions is a sure path to winning. China head to the FIBA U19 Women’s World Championship 2017 as the queens of Asia, showing promise that they will be very competitive not only at the continental level but at the world level, too.