China revenge on Japan, Nigeria make history at FIBA Women's World Cup

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, September 27, 2018
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Li Meng(R) of China competes during a quarter-final qualification match between China and Japan at the 2018 FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup at Santiago Martin in San Cristobal de La Laguna in Tenerife, Spain, Sept. 26, 2018. China won 87-81. (Xinhua/Zheng Huansong)

China savored a 87-81 revenge on archrivals Japan, while Nigeria became the first African team to move into the FIBA Women's World Cup quarterfinals at the 2018 edition on Wednesday.

It was China's first victory over Japanese first-string squad at major tournaments in the past five years following consecutive losses at the Asian Championships and Asian Cup.

Yang Liwei made four three-pointers to score 16 points, the same for captain Shao Ting. Huang Sijing had 14. Li Yueru added 12 points and eight boards.

Japan made five of six attempts beyond the arc for a 25-19 lead as the first quarter ran out, largely fueled by their starting point guard Nako Motohashi's 10 points.

Through substitutes' concerted effort, China could remain in contention. Shao Ting's fast break layup turned the tides for China to lead 43-41 for the first time since the start with 1:26 remaining. Li Meng's another three-pointer put China 46-44 ahead into the halftime.

Yang Liwei shone with two shots from outside late in the third quarter, lifting China to a 67-57 lead heading into the final period, the first time they established a double-figure advantage since the tip-off.

Japan cut the deficit as close as two points, but China kept their nerves through solid performance on free throw line despite Monica Okoye's eight late points.

Huang Sijing had a morale-boosting block and two rebounds to keep China marching on.

Motohashi finished a game-high 25 points for Japan deprived of their star center Ramu Tokashiki. Evelyn Mawuli, Yuki Miyazawa and Okoye had 12 apiece.

China will face Group B winner Australia, featuring WNBA All-star center Liz Cambage, in Friday's quarterfinal.

Nigeria's Elo Edema Edeferioka grabbed a crucial offensive rebound before being fouled with 3.2 seconds remaining. She calmly converted the ensuing two free throws to guide the team to a 57-56 win against Greece.

Nigeria could expect the biggest surprise to continue their magical journey in Tenerife when they face powerhouse the United States.

Title contenders Spain and France also moved through qualifications into quarters.

Suffering an agonizing defeat to Belgium seeing automatic qualification slide away, hosts Spain shrugged off a slow start to overcome Senegal 63-48.

Trailing 17-18 after the first quarter, Spain continued to dig deep at 25-18 down early in the second due to unsuccessful restraint on the African side's three-pointers.

But in overwhelming cheer from thousands of crowds, Spain had their response afterwards for a 34-all halftime tie.

An 11-2 spurt set up a comfortable cushion for Spain, but they conceded several turnovers to hand chances of coming back to Senegalese, who were six points behind prior to the final 12 minutes.

Spain built a double-digit margin with seven minutes from time, and never slipped later on. Astou Ndour scored 14 points for Spain.

Powered by prominent center Sandrine Gruda's 20 points and seven rebounds, France recorded a 78-61 victory over Turkey. Endene Miyem and Helena Ciak helped with 18 and 10 respectively.

Spain will next meet Canada, while France take on debutantes Belgium for semifinal spots.

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