China open with dominant win over New Zealand

XI’AN (China) – China tipped off their FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament 2024 campaign in Xi’an with a dominant performance against New Zealand, 94-47.

Coach Zheng Wei’s team opened the contest with a 9-2 run and never looked back. Celebrated center Xu Han sank three triples in the first quarter alone to headline the home team’s strong start. She eventually finished with 21 points, while fellow superstar Meng Li added 14 points in 19 minutes of action. Yueru Li made a triumphant return to the national team with a 16-point, 12-rebound double-double.

Esra McGoldrick (11 points) and Tera Reed (10 points) scored in double-digits to lead New Zealand.

Turning Point: The Tall Ferns were still within striking distance, 22-12, after the first quarter. Meng Li, however, scored 12 points in the next period to ignite a furious Chinese surge. Coach Zheng’s side built a 36-18 lead with six minutes to go in the second quarter to completely break the game wide open. Coach Guy Molloy’s squad could not mount any serious rally after that.

TCL Player of the Game: Xu Han’s stellar performance earned her the TCL Player of the Game. She recorded a game-high 21 points on a flawless 9-of-9 shooting performance from the floor, which included three triples. Han also added 6 rebounds and 4 blocked shots. The FIBA Women’s Asia Cup 2023 Most Valuable Player was even better than expected and should continue to be an imposing force in the OQT.

Stats don’t lie​: China were dominant. They never trailed in this game and led by as many as 47 points. The hosts completely dominated the interior, outscoring New Zealand in the paint, 56-28. China also outrebounded the Tall Ferns, 50-32. China also showcased sublime teamwork and ball movement with 32 assists. Yuan Li led them in that area with 11 assists to her name.

Bottom Line​: China finished second place in the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2022, and they want to make another big splash in the Olympic Games 2024. They’ve got one foot in the qualification door after this masterful win. China will face the Olympic hosts, France, next on Saturday. In contrast, while New Zealand faced a tough defeat, their chances to qualify for the Olympic Games remain alive, particularly if they secure a win against Puerto Rico on Day 2.

They said: “Congratulations to China. They’re a very powerful team, and it’s a great lesson for us to play against such a good team.” – Guy Molloy, New Zealand head coach

“It’s always a challenge to play against such a strong side. Kudos to them.” – Stella Beck, New Zealand guard

“Normally, the first game is not always easy. Today, we had a slow start and still not feeling good about our intensity. But as the game went on, we started to get used to it. We had a lot of consecutive points, and in the end, we had 32 assists. We played like a team both defensively and offensively. We still have two more games to go, and we’re ready for that.”
– Zheng Wei, China head coach

“We were ready for today’s game. We started training camp weeks ago, and that helped us execute our plays well. I want to thank my teammates for helping me be the player of the game today.” – Han Xu, China center



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