INCHEON (FIBA Asia Championship for Women): Hosts Korea displayed stronger nerves and better handling of the middle-game situation to beat China 79-73 and bag the gold on Sunday.
From 08:18 to 05:47 left on the clock in the second quarter, and the score tantalizingly poised at 23-21 in Korea’s favour, the game witnessed, arguably, the most barren moments of the Championship. Turnovers after turnovers and throw-ins and throw-ins later, Korean captain Sin-Mun Jung, as has been her wont in the Championship, moved in to dictate terms. With the towering Ha Eun Joo playing the ideal foil, the duo entertained the partisan crowd, steering their team ahead to a position of strength.
That Korean surge took the game away from the Chinese who thence began to lose concentration, questioning the calls of the officials. Korea, meanwhile, took advantage of the situation and raced ahead to their title-triumph after three Championships.
“Those moments decided the course of the game,” both the coaches were equivocal.
“The way Sun-Min steered Eun Joo to her best decided the game in our favour,” Korean coach Yoo Soo Jong said.
“We didn’t the feel the absence of Park Jung at all,” he added. Korean point guard Park Jung Eun had to be carried off the court, with 3:08 in the third quarter after a nasty blow she suffered on her mouth. She, however, returned having lost three teeth, but only to join her teammates in the celebrations.
“”When we began the Championship, our aim was to clinch the Olympic berth,” Yoo said. “Winning the Championship itself is a double treat the girls have given Korean basketball during our centenary celebrations,” the coach said.
“I hope we return with a similar result from Tokushima,” Yoo said looking forward to a similar result from the Korean’s men’s team from the FIBA Asia Championship to be played in the Japanese city about six weeks later.
“I think this win is a tribute to the hard work the girls have put in. Not only today, but the entire Championship,” he said. “Last year was not good for us. I think that worked on the girls to come up with this performance,” he added.
Sun Fenwgu chose to underplay China losing the title after a hat-trick. “I think we have done extremely well considering the fact we came here with our second best team,” he said. “The girls showed improvement with every game, and I think that’s crucial for us in the preparations for the Olympics.”
“I think some of them didn’t go for us. But then it’s a part of the game,” he justified his repeated questioning of the officials’ decisions during the game.
Korea 79 (Sun-Min Jung 18, Beon Yeon-Ha 15, Ha Eun Joo 14, Kim Kwe-Ryong 12) bt China 73 (Ma Zheng Yu 19, Zhang Han Ian 17, Zhang Fan 15) (Quarterwise: 20-18, 42-33, 62-50).S Mageshwaran