SYDNEY (Australia) – China reached the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2022 Final after edging host nation Australia 61-59 in a thrilling Semi-Finals clash in front of 11,916 fans inside the Sydney Superdome.
Turning point: It all boiled down the last few seconds when with the game level, Opals’ guard Sami Whitcomb fouled Siyu Wang and she held her nerve to sink both free-throws. After a time-out Australia had the chance to win the game from downtown or take it to overtime. They chose the latter, but a drive to the basket from Ezi Magbegor didn’t drop.
Game hero(es): Xu Han had a career night for China with a stunning performance as she equalled the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup blocks record with 5 swats. She also accumulated an efficiency score of 33 after registering 19 points from 80 percent floor shooting and completing a double-double with 11 rebounds. Meanwhile her teammate Liwei Yang chose a good time to post her best ever score in the tournament with 18 points.
Stats Don’t Lie: In a game of tight margins, China made 10 of 11 free-throws, including two to ice the game, whole the Opals shot 67 percent.
Bottom line: Australia allowed a glorious opportunity to slip through their fingers as they came back from some difficult moments to put themselves in a position to win. They had the bonus of no Meng Li for China and had handled their foul trouble in the last quarter really well until the last few seconds. The Opals just missed some free-throws and had no answer to the inspirational Han and that was the foundation for China making only their second ever Final, having also done so in 1994. But the warning shot for China is that they can’t afford to give up 20 offensive boards and as many second chance points in the title game with the USA.
“I want more people to cheer for women’s basketball… I’m very happy [for making it to the Final as] the World Cup is only once every four years and tonight’s game was a great game.” – China center, Xu Han
“We only have a small time to reflect in the locker room right now. Then, as soon as we walk out of the locker room, it’ll be game [face] on tomorrow [for bronze against Canada].” – Australia center, Cayla George.
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