China move past Japan, secure final spot in Asiad women's basketball

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China made into women's basketball final after sailing past Japan 86-74 at the 18th Asian Games on Thursday.

Captain Shao Ting led China with 16 points. Li Meng and Yang Liwei added 14 and 11 respectively.

"Everything went as what we had expected. Our opponents didn't play their best in our last duel in the group stage, and they showed much difference today," said China's head coach Xu Limin.

Shao spearheaded China's 7-0 spurt into the match with two layups and an assist to Li Meng for a three-pointer.

Japan opened their scoring through Mio Shinozaki's jumper, followed by teammate Saki Hayashi's shot beyond the arc.

Talented Chinese point guard Li Yuan did her own job with five points in a row, before China built a 20-17 lead as the first period ran out on Wang Siyu's two free throws.

"We felt quite nervous in the first half. Both teams are young, and desperate to win the do-or-die.

"We had to spare no effort to win, while suffering too many turnovers in fighting, but we did much better after regrouping ourselves at the interval," Li Meng pointed out.

China withstood tough challenge on their guard position, as Shinozaki and Hayashi attacked the basket on consecutive occasions.

"Despite the tough situation, we were fully prepared and steadied our nerves to win," said Xu.

Thanks to a three-pointer from Huang Sijing, China had a double digit advantage for the first time throughout the match with 4:30 remaining in the second quarter.

Leading by 40-30 into the second half, China extended their margin to as many as 20 points in the third period through all-round performance from different players, and managed to maintain their lead until the final whistle.

Five Japanese players scored double-figure points, led by Shinozaki's 17.

China aim at reclaiming the glory after losing to then hosts South Korea in the final four years ago.

"We need to play team basketball and display our depth on the bench. After overcoming Japan, we can expect more in the final," Xu pointed out.

They will take on Unified Korea team in Saturday's final, as the latter saw off Chinese Taipei 89-66.

"We need to totally carry out what we trained. The result will come out itself," said Wang Siyu.

"We are looking forward to the final. After all, it's not easy for every team to make into the final in Asia. We cherish this precious opportunity a lot," echoed Shao Ting.

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