China bounce back with emphatic win over Puerto Rico

XI’AN (China) – After a forgettable performance against France, China bounced back in a big way by overwhelming Puerto Rico, 105-69, on Day 3 of the FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament 2024 in Xi’an.

It was crystal clear from the tip-off that China were not playing around. They obviously wanted to rebound after a lackluster showing against on Day 2, and they did just that. Behind the offensive firepower of Li Meng, Li Yueru, Han Xu and Huang Sijing, coach Zheng Wei’s squad led wire to wire. Meng led the way with 23 points, while Yueru, Han and Huang each scored in double-figures. As for Puerto Rico, they could not get much momentum going, especially when Mya Hollingshed got her fourth foul in the second quarter. Arella Guirantes led them with 27 points.

Turning Point: China had a commanding 20-point lead at halftime, but Puerto Rico’s explosiveness meant they could still mount a second-half comeback. That was not to be, though, as China ramped up their defense in the third quarter. The hosts limited Puerto Rico to just 3 points in the first 6 minutes of the second half to expand their lead and put the outcome well beyond doubt. China held an 87-42 lead as they entered the final period.

TCL Player of the Game: Li Yueru could do no wrong in this game. She finished with an incredible 22-point, 23-rebound double-double to underscore China’s interior dominance. It was a wonderful performance from the 24-year-old star, who was playing in her first tournament after a major injury. She also added 3 blocks and shot 8-of-13 from the field. Yueru’s rebound total was the highest of any player in a single game in Xi’an.

Stats don’t lie​: China knew they had the size advantage, and they took advantage of that as much as possible. Coach Zheng’s wards outrebounded Puerto Rico, 62-31, and outscored their foes around the basket, 48-22. In addition, the home team displayed terrific ball movement, putting up 26 assists. That’s thanks to Li Yuan, who was a playmaking wizard with 10 assists.

Bottom Line​: Amidst sky-high expectations, China looked quite vulnerable after their loss to France. This victory, however, should right the ship for the FIBA Asia Cup 2023 champions. Ending the WOQT with a big win will boost China’s confidence as they look ahead and begin their preparations for the Paris Olympic Games 2024. As for Puerto Rico, they will need to rest and recover. Coach Gerardo Batista’s squad need nothing short of their best if they want to be competitive in Paris.

They said: “We were facing an amazing China team. I think we got into foul trouble too early in the game, but it was a good game.” – Gerardo Batista, Puerto Rico head coach

“My respect always to China. They have a fantastic team. Like coach said, we had a lot of fouls early. Our third quarter really hurt us a little bit, but all of the respect to them. They came out and played really hard. They shot the ball well and played really well.” – Tayra Melendez, Puerto Rico forward

“First, I want to appreciate all our supporters and friends from media all over the country. They came to support us here during the Chinese New Year. In this tournament, we went through a lot of difficulties, and we also conquered all those difficulties. That is a good thing for our team. Last night was a big loss for us, and the players were upset. However, I am happy that we adjusted ourselves quickly, and tonight we executed and played really well. For the national team, we really are not yet among the top teams in the world. We still need to keep working and get better.” – Zheng Wei, China head coach

“Today was an important win for us. We had a huge loss against France, and this was a warning for us that we are not among the best teams in the world. We need to keep going, and we’re still not as competitive as we want. We still need to get ready for the Olympic Games.” – Li Yueru, China center

The game report will be updated shortly. Check back soon for Game Highlights.



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