15/04/2024

China walked away with the victory against its continental rivals. (Photo: FIBA)

In the opening game of the FIBA Women’s World Cup for both nations, China put on a dominant display against a young inexperienced South Korea team.

In a one-nation demolition, China took control of the match throughout all four quarters. Unfortunately, a young, inexperienced South Korea team without leader Park Ji-su couldn’t contend with their continental rivals. The score ended 107-44 in favour of the China national team.

Rebounds galore

New York Liberty star Han Xu took control of the game with 15 rebounds to her name. (Photo: FIBA)

In what can only be described as a phenomenal performance by China’s front-court players, the nation had 58 rebounds, with 15 of them offensive boards.

This performance was led by Han Xu and Li Yueru, who were too tall and powerful for their opposition.

South Korea came nowhere close to matching the Chinese, finishing with 29 rebounds to round out the game. However on the offensive end, the South Koreans proudly tried to get extra chances with the ball.

Starting centre Jin An had three offensive boards, adding to their total of 15.

Preparation is key

China prepared in Europe while South Korea’s preparations were halted by an injury to its star player. (Photo: FIBA)

The result of this game alluded to which country was prepared, and which wasn’t. China came out of the blocks, starting with a 16-2 lead in its favour. The game always seemed out of South Korea’s reach, as it never got into the game.

Coming into the tournament, China prepared well, travelling to Europe. Whilst there it played against Belgium and France. China coach Zheng Wei believed this help set her side up well for the tournament.

With most of the team being isolated throughout 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19, it gave them a good warm up and got to build their team chemistry.

Unfortunately, South Korea faced the opposite in its preparations. Star player Park Ji-su got injured just before the World Cup began.

Only 23-years-old, Ji-su has played for the national team since 2015, helping it win bronze in the FIBA Asia Cup. She is also a former WNBA player, playing with the Las Vegas Aces for four seasons between 2018-2021.

“We lost Park Ji-su who is the biggest part of our team because of injury. We have no alternative player to replace her, we tried hard to prepare for playing without her but it wasn’t working well today,” coach Jung Sun-min said.

“This will be a great experience for our young players and it will continue building Korean basketball in the future.”

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Whats next?

China

China will take on Bosnia and Herzegovina, which suffered a surprising loss against Puerto Rico earlier in the day. Currently coming first in the group, it will be looking to continue its red-hot form.

Having never won a World Cup, China believes it can be its year to become champions.

“For us, Bosnia, they didn’t play well [against Puerto Rico], but Bosnia is a strong team we will prepare well,” China coach Zheng Wei said.

“We made some strategies to restrain their key players (for) tomorrow’s game. It will be a different game, really competitive game.”

Korea

Korea learned valuable experience from the loss against China. (Photo: FIBA)

Korea’s next opponent will be Belgium. Belgium, which went up against the United States on Thursday, is looking to impress after a disappointing loss.

Coach Jung Sun-min is hoping her players gain valuable experience in the match-up. While a loss can play on players’ mind, she believes her team can bounce back.

“I want our players to play more actively on the court,” she said.

“Today it was our first game, so it was a bit difficult but today’s experience will definitely help our team for tomorrow’s game.

“Our players don’t really have much experience in the international stage, so it will vary. Every single game is very precious and I want our players facing Belgium without fear.”

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