SURAT THANI, Thailand (20th FIBA Asia U18 Championship for Women): Defending champions Japan played a superb fourth quarter and defeated Chinese Taipei 67-62 in the final Level I Preliminary Round game on Sunday.
Japan, thus, topped the Level I standings winning all their five games, and will take on Korea in the semifinals. Chinese Taipei will play China.
The semifinals will be played on Tuesday, after Monday’s rest day.
Japan trailed Taipei for the better part of the game before making their move in the early part of the fourth quarter.
The girls from the Land of Rising Sun tightened their defense – outscoring their rivals 12-1 in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter – eke out their fifth win in a row.
““Well, it was one of those days when the plans were not executed well,” said Japan coach Tatsushi Isshiki.
“I’m happy this happened now rather than in the semifinals,” he added.
“This is a wakeup call for the girls. We have our task cut out now,” he said.
“I am really happy the way the defense came about in the fourth quarter. The girls have realized the importance of defense now,” Isshiki said.
Only Rina Sezaki was not fielded by Isshiki, and all the other players scored.
Rina Hill’s 14 was the highest for Japan.
Chinese Taipei Assistant coach Wang Weih-Chieh said: “The girls took the opportunities well.”
“This performance will help us keep up the confidence,” he added.
Chang Chi-fang’s game-high 18 points on Taipei behalf went in a losing cause.