China notch 3 wins on Day 3 of Olympic 3x3 basketball

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Hu Jinqiu of China shoots a layup during the pool round of men's 3X3 basketball compeition between China and Latvia at the Aomi Urban Sports Park in Tokyo, Japan, July 25, 2021. (Xinhua/Zhang Xiaoyu)

China's men's team beat Belgium and Poland consecutively to snap a four-game skid, while the women's team defeated Japan before losing to the United States on Day 3 in the Olympic 3x3 basketball tournaments here Monday.

After four defeats over the first two days of competition, China's men have gradually adapted themselves to clashes against international powerhouses.

"Because of COVID-19, we were unable to go abroad to play against other strong teams. As this tournament continues, we are getting stronger and there is much to build on," said China small forward Yan Peng.

Facing Belgium, China trailed 6-0 but then fought back to turn the deficit into a 18-14 lead. Tied at 20-20, Belgium suffered their seventh team foul to allow Hu Jinqiu to seal the victory with a free throw.

"This was a tough one," Belgium's Rafael Bogaerts said after the game. "We had trouble with their big guys and [rebounding] on the boards."

In a hard-fought victory over Poland, China trailed for most of the game. However, every time Poland tried to fly high, China tried everything to keep their opponents on the ground. China used a 6-0 run to nail down the 21-19 victory with Yan's game-winning 2-pointer.

"The energy has been going up and up. Tomorrow is our last game and we hope to continue the energy and we look forward to it," said Yan.

Said China point guard Gao Shiyan, "Defeating Belgium and Poland proves that we are an excellent team."

Elsewhere in the men's pool, Serbia kept their perfect record intact after two more victories over Japan and Latvia on Monday, securing a berth in the semifinals. Hosts Japan suffered two defeats to Serbia 21-11 and the ROC 19-16. The ROC later beat Latvia 19-15. The Netherlands lost to Belgium 18-17 and beat Poland 22-20.

In the women's tournament, China is poised to advance to the next round after defeating Japan 15-12 but losing 21-19 to the U.S.

China and the U.S. played one of the best games at the tournament so far. Facing the unbeaten U.S., China played aggressively and got the upper hand several times. But the U.S. came back quickly with fast breaks and dazzling scoop layups. With the score deadlocked at 19-19, Kelsey Plum scored a game-winning 2-pointer to help U.S. clinch a berth in the semifinals.

"What we need to do is to be ourselves," China's Wang Lili said. "We fear no one."

Plum paid tribute to her opponents. "They played really super physical. For us, it is tough. This is a hard tournament and you do not have an easy game. And they hit some big shots, so credit to them for putting up a good fight."

Before beating China in the evening, the U.S. defeated Italy, keeping a perfect record so far to advance to the semifinals. Hosts Japan smashed Italy after losing to China. The ROC defeated Romania 21-12 and lost to France 17-14.

With a 4-2 win-loss record, China's women will face Mongolia on Tuesday for the last match in the women's pool, while the men's team will face Japan. 

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