USA claims 4th straight women's basketball World Cup title as China ties best record

Team USA members celebrate during the awarding ceremony of the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2022 in Sydney, Australia, Oct. 1, 2022. (Photo by Hu Jingchen/Xinhua)

The United States claimed its fourth FIBA World Cup title in a row after an 83-61 victory over China in the final here on Saturday.

Despite the defeat, the Chinese team has already tied its best record at the quadrennial tournament. It also finished runner-up at the formerly known FIBA World Championship for Women in 1994.

Earlier in the group stage, China lost to the United States 77-63.

Chinese player Han Xu, U.S. players A'Ja Wilson and Breanna Stewart, Canadian Bridget Carleton and Australian Steph Talbot were awarded the All Star Five, as the Most Valuable Player title went to one of the final's top scorers Wilson.

Li Yueru led China with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Wu Tongtong scored 13 points before being helped off the court with a leg injury. Wang Siyu added 11.

According to FIBA, Li achieved the first double-double in a World Cup final since 2013 when Lauren Nichols and Sancho Lyttle both did it for Spain.

"We tried our best to win today. Though we didn't make it, we feel that we showed our best and hope to get better results in the future," Li told Xinhua.

With leading scorer Li Meng still sidelined for the final, China got a huge help in the first quarter from Wang Siyu and Li Yueru, who combined for all 13 points during the stretch, and trailed by five points at the quarter's end.

Wu Tongtong swept China's first nine points in the second period, but a more balanced USA gradually took the upper hand with different players hitting the scoreboard.

Kelsey Plum converted a four-point play in transition, and Ariel Atkins earned the United States its first double-digit advantage at 29-18 with 6:16 to play with a shot beyond the arc. Following Han Xu's consecutive shots in the paint, Jin Weina, not a regular face in rotation during the group stage, hit a late step-back 3-pointer to help China pull within to 33-43 at halftime.

As both sides put more energy into defense, the first three minutes after the intermission saw only two points scored from the United States, who outscored China 25-14 to extend its advantage to 21 points going into the final 10 minutes and never looked back.

"The result is a surprise for us. Our team has exceeded the target we set for this tournament. The players performed so well on the field to the best of their ability," said China's head coach Zheng Wei, who won the Best Coach award at the World Cup.

"But we need to calm down, solve our problems and learn from other teams. For example, we didn't play well under strong pressure and our players' attacking needs to be strengthened," said Zheng, adding that the team hopes to have a better performance at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.

The host Australia claimed the World Cup bronze medal by defeating Canada for the second time during the tournament. The two teams met in the group phase, with Australia battling out a narrow 75-72 victory.

With an 8-point lead over Canada at halftime, Australia caught fire by outscoring their opponents 22 points in the second half en route to the 95-65 victory.

The 41-year-old Lauren Jackson called the shots by clinching a game-high 30 points and seven rebounds for her "last game ever in the green and gold."

The legend became the first player to score over 25 points and five rebounds in a medal game at the Women's World Cup since 2006, according to FIBA.

"I said to Sandy (Australia head coach) after the game, just thank you for selecting me, because it's given me an opportunity just to play the sport I love in front of Australia again, and to say goodbye this way is just magnificent," said the Aussie superstar, whose eyes were swelled with tears.

By AFP 7 hrs ago
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