In a demonstration that can be described as impeccable, the defending champion, Korea, and the continent’s superpower, China, showed why they enjoy single-digit ratings in the world on the opening day of the FIBA-ASIA women’s basketball championship at the JN Indoor Stadium.
While Korea outplayed India, exposing the chasm between the teams at this level, China was too professional and proficient for Thailand. Both the teams crossed the three figures without much ado.
The thread that links Korea and China is the essence of efficiency, energy and enterprise. The number of fast breaks that Korea managed to produce against India exemplified the efficacy of speed, craft and finish.
Quite a few sallies left the Indians flabbergasted under the board. That India could manage just seven points against the 27 by the rivals in the first quarter is the best illustration for the fragile defence.
Both Anitha Pauldurai and even the star, Geethu, were left clueless by some of the Korean moves with Sun Min Jung as the vanguard. At 34, Sun’s athleticism is amazing. She moved up and down the court like a beaver, and scored from every conceivable angle. Indisputably, it was Sun who set the tempo for the Koreans with a series of under baskets.
Yeon Ha then picked the threads to emerge as the best scorer in the match. There were some eye catching long-range shots, and the one that stood out was executed by Lee Kyung Sun that helped Korea touch the three- figure mark.
The quality of India’s display hurts more than the result. It was a thoroughly disappointing performance. While everyone agreed that Korea’s shooting was immaculate, the space that India surrendered repeatedly was appalling. It was evident that the players failed to match the rivals’ speed and swiftness of passing.
Only in the second quarter did India show some resistance gleaning 14 points. Coach J.B. Singh reckoned lack of time for warm-up cost India dear. All the members of the team took part in the march-past and the ceremony while only a few Koreans turned up.
China doused the early sparkle of the Thais, who enjoyed a slender early lead of 9-6 in the first quarter. Thereafter, it was China all the way with super stars like Miao Lijie and Chen Nan scoring at will. From 34-15 up in the first quarter, China established an unassailable lead of 55-25 at halftime and went on to close out the match 115-51.
T.P.M. Mohideen Khan, TN Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs declared open the championship in the presence of M. Subramanian, Mayor of Chennai, Harish Sharma, Secretary, BFI, K.N. Ramajayam, Working President, Organising Committee and other officials.
India’s captain, Geethu Anna Jose, took the oath on behalf of the teams.
The results: Group A: Korea 102 (Yeon Ha 26, Sun Min Jung 20, Jung Eun Kim 14) bt India 46 (Geetha Anna Jose 15, Pratima Singh 12); China 115 (Lan Bian 12, Miao Lijie 13, Xin Guan 13, Chen Nan 12, Huang Hongping 18) bt Thailand 51 (Juthamas Jantakan 20, Suksomwong 12); Japan 73( Yuko Oga 24, Ryoko Utsmi 21) bt Chinese Taipei 65 (Wan Tiang Li 12, Jui Yu Lan 11).
Group B: Philippines 61 (Sylvia Valencia 15) bt Malaysia 55 (Fong Beng 11, Siew Teng Ang 10, Yann Pee 10, Kew Sulk 14); Lebanon 83 (Chantelle Anderson 19, Nisrin Dandan 15, Chada Nasr 23) bt Uzbekistan 68 (Yuiliya Tatarinova 11, Irina Pulunina 21, Alla Krasovskaya 10); Kazakhstan 94 (Anna Kucheryavykh 12, Mariya Protsenko 10, Oxana Ivanova 10, Yelena Dots 13, Tamara Seregina 11, Nataliya Kuzmicheva 12) bt Sri Lanka 40 (Pramila Beruwallage 13).
Friday’s fixtures: Group B: Malayasia v Lebanon (9 a.m.); Kazakhstan v Philippines (11a.m.); Sri Lanka v Uzbekistan (1 p.m.); Group A: China v Japan (3 p.m.); India v Chinese Taipei (5 p.m.); Korea v Thailand (7 p.m.).