JINAN, China (2nd FIBA Asia U16 Championship for Women): Japan needed a 10-0 run at the close of the first quarter to overcome a stuttering start and then a determined performance to stop a perky Korean rival line-up and win 83-67, and bring the curtain down on the Prelim Round competition here on Thursday.
The win kept Japan’s unbeaten record intact and gave them the cushion of playing the No 4 team of Level I – Chinese Taipei in the semifinals scheduled for Saturday after Friday’s rest day.
Korea’s defeat left them staring at the No 3 spot in Level I and a semifinal clash against the mighty Chinese.
“It’s good to get tested like this before the semifinals,” said Japan coach Hayashi Shinichiro
Natsumi Nagai, who had seven points in the first quarter including sparking that closing run, took charge of the proceedings in the fourth when Korea threatened a rally in the third.
In all, Nagai finished with 18 points, 6 of them coming in the early part of the fourth quarter. Ai Yamada had a team-high 21 points, 12 of them in the second half.
A 7-0 run brought Korea on par at 47, but Japan held their heads together to eke out he win.
Kim Sion caught the attention early on scoring 9 of Korea’s first 10 points in the game and went on to lead their scoring with 19 points.
“We controlled the ball alright, but could have done a lot better on rebounds,” said Korea coach Hu Man Dug.
Japan outrebounded Korea 54-33.
Yunika Nakamura pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds for the only double-double of the game along with 11 points for Japan.
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