Japan and India outperform the Aussies and Kazaks to clinch FIBA Women’s Asia Cup
This weekend that passed was an absolute thriller for any basketball fans out there; there was not one, but two finals for the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup that took place in Bengaluru, one for division A and the other for Division B. The Division A final saw Japan go against the Australians and division B was a battle between India and Kazakhstan.
Fiery Finale in Division B
Tough First Half
The first place match in division B was a hard fought battle; both teams brought their absolute A-games to the field and fought tooth and nail for glory. The team that won would get promoted to Division A of the FIBA Asia Cup and get a chance to play with the big teams like Japan and Australia, so a lot was at stake. As a result, the leads shifted frequently in the first quarter before Kazakhstan started to emerge dominant with a 20-15 lead in the second quarter, and by the time the first half finished, they were leading by a healthy 8 point lead.
India steals the match in last minutes
Kazakhstan even extended their lead to 14 points in the third half, but the spirited Indian women kept fighting and didn’t give up just yet. Then, when there were a little over 5 minutes left, they saw an opening and seized it with both hands. Jeena Skaria scored an immaculate jumper and brought on an Indian lead for the first time at 61-60. After both sides dealing in equal blows for some time, Kazakhstan’s Oxana Ossipenko scored more than once to shift the tide in Kazakhstan’s favor. With only 1 minute and 36 seconds to go, it seemed over for India, but thanks to young Forward Shireen Limaye and Skaria, in just a jiffy, the score was tied at 71.
This resulted in Kazak star Ossipenko running towards the basket in a frenzy and scoring, leading to a 2 point deficit in India’s score. India, however, had one last trick up their sleeve in the form of Limay, who shot the ball through the basket to clinch the promotion to division A of the FIBA Asia Cup with just 5 seconds left. An uproar of Indian fans captured the stadium as Limay exulted and was hugged by her teammates.
Tweets by eminent personalities
Congratulations Indian Women’s Basketball Team On Winning The #FIBAAsiaCupWomen2017!
— Sir Ravindra Jadeja (@SirJadeja) 30 July 2017
— Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) 30 July 2017
Division A – Japan takes on Australia
Japan – the favorites
On the business end of the table, it was all set to be a titanic clash between the Aussies and the Japs. Japan has won this title two times, so they started as clear favorites, but the Australians had had a wonderful lead up to the finals, absolutely destroying every single team in their path to glory. A titanic clash ensued, with both teams neutralizing every lead rapidly, with seven lead changes.
Saki Mizushima stars in epic win for Japan
Things were looking dim for Japan’s star player, Manami Fujioka, who was being kept on a tight leash by the Australian defenders, so the team called upon their shooting guard Saki Mizushima. While she had had an uneventful tournament, she exploded right when her team needed her the most, scoring a mind blowing 26 points with seven three-pointers. It was her three-pointer that made the difference in the very end when Japan and Australia were tied at 71 each. Australia fought hard, with Kelsey Griffin scoring a career-high 30 points, and even got a lead of 10 points in the first half, but their lack of composure led to Japan having the upper hand.
Australia’s Kelsey Griffin wins the Most Valuable Player Award
However, there was a little bit of silver lining for the Aussies as their very own Kelsey Griffin won the Most Valuable Player of the FIBA Asia Cup award. They will head home proud of their near clinical performance and of the form of their star players.
It was a gripping tournament and it served to invigorate lots of new young players to dribble the balls and pursue their basketball dreams.