Taiwan Junior Women’s NT lost to South Korea 94-73 in the bronze medal game of the 19th Asian Junior Women Championship in Medan, Indonesia on Nov. 8 and finished for the fourth place for the third straight time in the tournament. The story came too late, I know. And I’m sorry for that.
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MEDAN, Indonesia (FIBA Asia U18 Championship for Women): Twelve teams – divided into two levels – will be seen in action in the 19th FIBA Asia U18 Championship for Women starting at the picturesque capital of North Sumatra on Sunday.
The top three finishers from the week-long championship will qualify for the 2009 FIBA U19 World Championship for Women, scheduled to be held in Thailand.
Six-time defending champions China, Korea – the only other team to ever win the title – last edition’s runners-up Japan, Chinese Taipei, India and Malaysia will contest in the elite Level I, which will decide the champions as well as the qualifiers for the World Championship.
Hosts Indonesia, making a comeback to the championship after a 16-year gap, are drawn with fellow South East Asian rivals Thailand, Philippines, Singapore, East Asia’s Hong Kong and Middle Asian nation Kazakhstan in Level II.
The top four finishers in Level I will be involved in a semifinal knockout.
The top two finishers from Level II will play off with the bottom two finishers of Level I for a place in the elite Level for the next edition.
Both levels will witness an all-play-all format for identifying the semifinalists and the play-off participants.
Big time basketball makes an appearance in Indonesia after quite a gap and the FIBA Asia top brass are quite excited about the championship providing a boost to the sport in this region.
“I’m sure Medan will rise to the occasion and give us a successful championship,” FIBA Asia Secretary General Dato’ Yeoh Choo Hock said.
“We have had a very eventful year in FIBA Asia. Iran’s impressive showing at the Olympics, the successful resumption of the FIBA Asia Stankovic Cup and the colorful start to the FIBA 33 competition in Bali last week, are some of the top successes for FIBA Asia this year,” he said.
“Not to forget China’s excellent hosting of the Olympics.”
“Of course, we have conducted all our regular tournaments without any hitch and have raised the standards on that front too. Medan’s success will be the icing on the FIBA Asia cake,” he added.
On the competition front though, the question that lingers in everyone’s mind is: Who will better the East Asian quartet?
China, Korea, Japan and Chinese Taipei have held a stranglehold on the top four finishes in the championship for almost the last quarter of a century.
The last time any team outside this foursome made the semifinals was when Malaysia made the last four in the eighth edition of the championship at Seoul, Korea way back in 1984.
China, Korea and Japan finished as the top three in the last edition at Bangkok and duly qualified for the 2007 FIBA World U19 Championship at Slovakia.
Both China and Korea have brought one player each from the team that played in Slovakia to spearhead their campaign at Medan.
Point guard Hyejin Park, who averaged 6.8 PPG in Slovakia, will hope that her World Championship experience will help Korea regain the title, which they last won in the 12th edition of the championship in Beijing in 1992.
China will counter the Park threat with center Zheng Bowen, who as the youngest member of the team in Slovakia returned an average 5.9 PPG.
Korea had finished eighth and China 11th as Japan finished 13th at Slovakia.
India and Malaysia, both of whom were promoted from Level II at the last edition in Bangkok, thus have their task cut out to dent the might of the East Asian stranglehold. Should that happen it will be a fitting finale to this year’s FIBA Asia calendar.
Rankings at the 18th FIBA Asia U18 Championship for Women
4. Chinese Taipei
10. Hong Kong
12. Sri Lanka
Note: * denotes relegated to Level II. **denotes promoted to Level I.