SANA’A, Yemen (21st FIBA Asia U18 Championship): China took charge of the proceedings in the second quarter and cantered their way to win 103-80 over Korea in the gold medal game on Friday.
Both Korea and China were returning to the medals podium after four years.
China, for whom this was their ninth gold medal in 18 appearances, had finished fifth at Tehran two years ago.
Korea, who finished one place behind China at Tehran, failed to add to their three earlier gold medals and had to be content with their fifth silver medal in the event.
Korea did well, beyond the expectations of many discerning at the 22nd May Hall, to remain close to China on the scoreboard for the entire first quarter. All that lasted till Wang Zhelin began to score with wonted regularity.
The 213-cm Fujian Xunxing center poured in 10 points, collected as many rebounds and effected one assist as China outscored their rivals 18-7 in the first five minutes of the second quarter and 26-13 in all to end the first half on an ascent.
An ascent that only grew for the remainder of the game as China powered their way to the gold.
Wang went on to score 27 points, and collected 19 rebounds, besides effecting four assists.
Guo Ailun, was as usual, China’s highest scorer with 28 points, 21 of them in the second half.
“It wasn’t as easy as it looked. We had to work hard for the win,” said China coach Fan Bin who is now unbeaten in FIBA Asia competitions.
Last year at the inaugural FIBA Asia U16 Championship at Johor Bahru, Fan Bin had steered China to the gold medal with an 8-0 winning streak. In this competition, China’s spree was 9-0.
“There is a lot of improvement,” said Fan Bin about the nine in the line-up here, who were also a part of the Johor campaign.
“I’m really pleased with the way the boys work hard to build a lead and harder to maintain it,” he said.
“Well, I can take home the satisfaction that we lost to a better team,” said Korea coach Songgug Lee.
“We didn’t have a very happy start. But after that we did really well,” he said. Korea began the competition with a defeat to Kazakhstan – who eventually finished 11th here – but after that rolled out a seven-game winning streak till they met their match in China.
“What I am happy is that the boys are learning, and have learnt from their mistakes. And there are very few mistakes that they are repeating. That is very important for the future,” Songgug Lee said.
For their credit, Korea never gave up and provided some speedy display even though they were trailing by a sizable margin.
Giyun Kim was Korea’s highest scorer with a game-high 29 points before being ejected for five personal fouls midway through the fourth quarter.
For Game Statistics and Detailed scores click here
S Mageshwaran / FIBA Asia