CHENNAI (23rd FIBA Asia Women Championship) - Ma Zhengyu came off the bench and reeled off 16 points as China powered ahead to score a 91-71 win over defending champions Korea in the gold medal game on Thursday.
China, thus won their 10th gold medal in FIBA Asia Women Championships, regaining the top place after losing it to Korea in Incheon two years ago.
The two fought edgily in the opening minutes with the accent more on wait-and-watch than pounce-without-caution.
As a result, leads changed like a see-saw and fortunes swung like a pendulum, at least for the entire first quarter.
Ma Zhengyu scored her only basket for the quarter to give China a 14-13 lead, after which China never trailed.
It was in the second quarter that Ma’s presence helped Sun Fengwu’s team steady their nerves.
Bian Lan, adjudged the MVP of the Championship began to play with wonted fervour and Chen Xiaoli began to move in tandem and China’s grip on the game grew manifold.
Chen Nan, awarded the Best Centre award later, started to exercise control of the boards – she collected a total of nine boards of the game – and China gradually built their lead.
The 2008 Beijing Olympic semifinalists led by as many as 23 points in the fourth quarter.
Chen Nan topped the scoring for China with 17 points and Bian Lan chipped in with 13 points and five assists.
Chen Xiaoli had 13 and Zhang Fan added 11 to the Chinese all-round show.
Beon Yeonha had a staggering game-high 29 points for Korea and Jung Sunmin played with characteristic composure for her 17.
But a meager 40% (26/65) field record, including a much-below-par 38% (5/13) in three-pointers, didn’t help Korea’s cause.
“I think it was a tribute to the hard work the girls had put in the entire championship,” said China coach Sun Fengwu.
“We were determined to do well and that’s what carried us through,” he added.
On a personal front, it was sweet revenge for Sun Fengwu after losing two games, including the final, in Incheon two years ago.
“I guess it was there on the back of my mind, but then this is a different competition in a different time,” he said.
“Our game plan was to match their speed and stop their shooters. And fortunately both worked in the way we wanted. Also our height advantage stood us in good stead,” Sun Fengwu said.