China Ends Japan’s Long Reign to Win Women’s Basketball Asia Cup Title

SYDNEY — China rallied to claim its first women’s basketball Asia Cup title since 2012 as it beat five-time defending champion Japan 73-71 in an epic final on Sunday.

Trailing at halftime it appeared China may fall for a third consecutive time in a title game as reigning champion Japan scored the last 14 points of the first half to lead by nine points.

Led by player of the tournament center Xu Han, China seized the momentum early in the third quarter and took what proved a match-winning lead late in the game to end its 12-year wait for a gold medal in front of a large crowd in Sydney.

Xu finished with a match-defining 26 points and 10 rebounds to complete the feat of recording a double-double in every game of the tournament. Siyu Wang scored 17 points.

Maki Takada led Japan with 17 points and four rebounds, with Saki Hayashi scoring 12 points for Japan.

China’s title follows its silver medal at the women’s basketball World Cup, also held in Sydney, late last year.

Japan and China met in the 2019 and 2021 title games with the Japanese prevailing in both to claim their fourth and fifth titles.

Earlier Saturday, host nation Australia claimed its third consecutive bronze medal as it cruised past New Zealand 81-59 to repeat its result from Bengaluru, India in 2019 and Amman, Jordan in 2021.

Alice Kunek contributed a team high 19 points and Anneli Maley completed a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds, while Tess Madgen scored 14 points with five rebounds and three steals for the Opals.

The eight-team regional tournament doubled as qualifying for next year’s Olympics, with the semifinalists — Japan, Australia, China and New Zealand — qualifying for Paris 2024.

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