INCHEON (FIBA Asia Championship for Women
) - Point guard Ai Mitani sunk two silken three pointers – one from each flank – in the opening moments of the match and Japan never looked back to bag the bronze medal, with a clinical 73-70 win against Chinese Taipei on Sunday.
Much as Taipei might take credit for the gritty manner in which they maintained pressure for the rest of the encounter, that early success meant Japan were always ahead, even if on occasions by not so comfortable a margin. That Taipei never managed to even level the score throughout the encounter spoke for the Japanese advantage.
With Ryoko Utumi and Yuko Oga displaying they playmaking skills and scoring acumen with abundant élan, not to forget Kumiko Yamada’s influential presence in the center, Taipei’s task only got more uphill as the game progressed. Of course, there was this splendid rally Taipei staged in the dying moments, but their scoring rate, barring Chiang Feng Chun’s tidy work, never came up to the necessary levels.
“It was always going to be difficult after we gave them that initiative,” moaned Taipei coach Lin Hung Ling-Yao in exasperation.
“They made it tougher as the match progressed,” remarked Japanese coach Tomohide Utsumi.
“The way they were attempting from outside, I had my heart in the mouth. I was pleasantly surprised at the way those attempts didn’t go in.”
“It was bound to happen considering the pace at which things went,” Utsumi said commenting on the rival rally. “We were not getting fresher by the moment,” he chuckled.
“I think we lost it the first few minutes. We did manage to fight back, but against a team like Japan I knew we had to come up with something spectacular,” said Ling-Yao.
Japan 73 (Yuko Oga 17, Ryoko Utsumi 12, Kumiko Yamada 10, Ai Mitani 10) bt Chinese Taipei 70 (Chiang Feng Chun 21, Wen Chi 12, Cheng Hui Yun 12). (Quarterwise: 22-13, 40-30, 56-47)S Mageshwaran