China Edges Out Japan, Wins Seventh Women’s Basketball Gold
In a nail-biting showdown at the ongoing Asian Games in Hangzhou in the eastern Zhejiang province Thursday, the Chinese women’s basketball team clinched a 74-72 victory, retaining their title against long-time rivals, Japan.
After China maintained a dominant lead in the first quarter performance, Japan steadily closed the gap soon after, leveling the score at 65-65 with just three minutes remaining. Despite China’s efforts to pull away, both teams were drawn even at 72-72. With nine seconds left on the clock, Wang Siyu sank the winning basket.
The victory marks the seventh Asian Games gold for the Chinese women’s basketball team. Leading up to the final, China’s women’s team defeated opponents with an average margin of 52.4 points across five games, and were the only team in this year's Asian Games to score over 100 points in each of their previous matches.
Following Thursday’s thrilling win, the Chinese team’s coach, Zheng Wei said: “From the Jakarta Asian Games (in 2018) to now, the Chinese women’s basketball team has played many games with close scores. We never drop the ball at critical moments.”
In a gesture of encouragement following the intense match, the SC. Yuanda Basketball Club from the southwestern Sichuan province announced that three of their standout players — Li Meng, Wang Siyu, and Han Xu — would each receive a 68-square-meter apartment as a reward for their performances.
In their official statement, the club stated that the three players not only embodied the spirit of Chinese women’s basketball but also brought honor to the nation and elevated the prestige of Sichuan.
This isn’t the first time players from Sichuan have been recognized for their achievements on the court. Back in the Women’s Basketball Asian Cup final held in July, four Sichuan players emerged as champions. In recognition of their stellar performances, each was awarded 500,000 yuan ($69,300).
The string of victories, and generous rewards, haven’t gone unnoticed across Chinese social media platforms, with many underscoring that women basketball players ought to receive greater recognition and better treatment.
Echoing this sentiment, Su Qun, a renowned basketball commentator, wrote on the microblogging platform Weibo: “I hope everyone in the women’s basketball team will become ‘internet celebrities’, earn more money, and play well.”
“This will encourage more parents to send their children to play basketball and win glory for China, and I request an increase in their salaries as well,” commented another Weibo user.
Liu Xiaoling, who’s been following women’s basketball since 2018, told Sixth Tone that while the Chinese team had its share of mistakes, luck played a role too. “However, being able to handle pressure and seize opportunities during critical moments is definitely an indication of strength,” he said.
Another fan, 28-year-old Zhao Qi said that she had seen the women’s team becoming more and more confident in recent years. “The unyielding spirit of their team is admirable, even if they lose, they will not be blamed,” she said.
(Header image: China forward Li Meng (9) shoots during the women’s basketball final between China and Japan at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, Oct. 5, 2023. VCG)