Fri, 22 Sep 2023

ANTWERP, June 25 (Xinhua) -- Against hundreds of roaring local supporters, the Chinese women's 3X3 basketball team was calm enough and showed no mercy to hammer the Belgians 21-13 to breeze into the semifinals of the FIBA World Cup on Saturday.

The host, overcoming Brazil 15-9 in the quarterfinals of the playoffs earlier in the day, had to play with only three players as Laure Resimont was sidelined after picking an injury at the beginning of the victory over the South American team.

"I have witnessed so many times that a team won the match with only three players, so we had no excuse to slack when we prepare for this match," said Chinese head coach Xu Jiamin. "No matter playing against three or four players, we will focus on our own game plan and do the same preparations."

The title holders surged to an 8-1 lead after only three minutes but then encountered a hard fightback from the rivals. Becky Massey and Julie Vanloo, combining 11 points in the match, led the Belgians to a 6-1 run to close the gap to only two points with four and a half minutes left.

Wang Lili, who scored a game-high nine points, calmed down the Chinese team with an outside shoot, followed by another one from the team's newcomer Cao Junwei. China thus regained the momentum and kept the advantage until the final whistle.

"We knew that it would be a tough match. Every team has known the others very well at this stage, even we can do a lot of preparations before every game, it was the performance of the players on the court that decide the final result," Xu added.

The World Cup is China's first international tournament after the Tokyo Olympics, as three of the current team's four players - Wang Lili, Zhang Zhiting and Wan Jiyuan played at Tokyo 2020, while Cao Junwei came in as a replacement for Yang Shuyu, who has been capped for the 5X5 national squad.

"Cao was playing better and better as the tournament went on, everyone in the team was trying to help her to get used to the intensity and the speed of the 3X3 basketball matches at the top level," Xu said about the debutant.

Next for China will be France in their semifinal, which is a rematch of the third-place clash at Tokyo 2020, when China defeated the European powerhouse 16-14 to clinch the bronze medal. France edged Spain 15-14 to advance while the other semifinal will see Lithuania take on Canada.

In the men's actions, four-time World Cup winner Serbia knocked out current Olympic champion Latvia 22-17 to set a semifinal against hosts Belgium, who saw off Poland 18-14 to reach the last four.

France defeated the Netherlands 18-12 to progress and will play against Lithuania for a place in the final. The latter overwhelmed the United States 21-11 in the last match of the day.

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