Women’s team picks up a win at Olympic pre-qualifierThe Korean women’s basketball team started the 2019 FIBA Women’s Olympic pre-qualifying tournament for Asia-Oceania strong by defeating China 81-80 in Auckland, New Zealand, on Thursday.
Against the eighth-ranked China, the 18th ranked Korea got off to a great start by taking the lead 25-17 in the first quarter. By the end of the third, Korea had a 10-point lead ahead of China, at 66-56. But in the last quarter, China quickly caught up to Korea as the two finally tied the score at 77-77, when there was about two minutes remaining in the match.
Then, as Li Meng scored a three-pointer, China took the lead 80-77. With 46 seconds remaining, Kim Jung-eun made a layup shot to get behind 79-80, and at 27 seconds, Park Hye-jin made another layup shot for Korea to bring back their lead to 81-80 to clinch a thrilling last-second victory.
Throughout the match, Park Ji-su led Team Korea by scoring 23 points with eight rebounds and three steals.
With a win, Korea started the Group A action in second place, behind New Zealand on points.
Elsewhere in Group A, New Zealand also started the tournament strong by picking up a big 111-54 win against the Philippines.
Korea will continue the pre-qualifier with a game against the Philippines tomorrow and finish off the tournament with a game against New Zealand on Sunday.
The top two teams will earn their spot in the final qualifier.
There are a total of eight countries participating in the Asia-Oceania pre-qualifier, and the teams are divided into two groups of four teams. For Group B, as Japan has already qualified for the 2020 Olympics as host, only the highest-ranked team and Japan will advance to the final qualifier.
By Kang Yoo-rim