New Delhi: Wang Siyu had a decisive steal as China shocked third-ranked Australia 70-69 to sit atop Group B with three straight victories at FIBA Women’s Asia Cup on Thursday.China’s captain Shao Ting converted a turnaround layup with 5.9 seconds from time. At the other end of the court, Wang, registering a game-high 18 points, maneuvered for a steal to seal the deal. Li Yueru contributed 14 points and nine rebounds for China. Han Xu, Wu Tongtong and Gao Song added seven points apiece.
Following Chen Mingling’s layup into the tip-off, China went scoreless and were responded by a 10-0 run in over three minutes, forcing head coach Xu Limin to call a time-out. China made timely adjustment thereafter. Wang attacked the basket on consecutive occasions to score nine points as the first quarter expired with Australia leading at 20-19.
Yang Liwei hit a three-pointer into the second quarter, followed by Wu’s layup. China gradually paced the rhythm midway en route to a 44-35 advantage back to the locker room through Han’s three-point play. China still had an upper hand after the restart, leading by five points heading into the final 10 minutes.
Australia made a strong comeback later, leveling the score at 65-all after Darcee Garbin’s layup. Li converted three of the next four free throws, but Leilani Mitchell’s driving layup with 10.6 seconds from time put Australia 69-68 ahead. Then Shao and Wang combined to help China put the win into pocket.
China lost to Australia 83-42 at last year’s FIBA Women’s World Cup. But without star center Liz Cambage, Australia were reduced to another lever at both ends. Katie Ebzery led Australia’s score sheet with 13 points. Mitchell and Garbin each had nine. China finished the group phase with three wins in as many matches, earning direct entry to semifinals of the tournament.
Australia, ranked second at 2-1, have to fight for one semifinal berth against the third-ranked team in Group A.
New Zealand sit third in Group B after overcoming the Philippines 75-57, and are destined to play a qualification to semifinals against the second-placed team from Group A.