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China rally past Canada, one win away from best result in 24 years at FIBA World Cup
TENERIFE, Spain, Sept. 29 -- China clawed back from a 14-point halftime deficit to beat Canada 76-71 in the fifth-eighth place classifications Saturday at the 2018 FIBA Women's World Cup to move one win away from their best result at the tournament since 1994.
China finished runners-up 24 years ago. Their previous best result since then was finishing sixth twice in 2002 and 2014.
Li Meng scored 18 points to lead China. Han Xu helped with 12 points and nine rebounds.
"We never gave up in adversities, and benefited a lot from our resistance at last," said Li.
Li hit two three-pointers in a row to kick off China's offense, but Canada went ahead through contributions from different players and got a 19-16 advantage following Natalie Achonwa's layup late in the first quarter.
China failed to restrain opponents' performance outside as Canada made three 3-pointers in a row, before leading by double figures for the first time at 30-20 on Achonwa's jumper. Canada led 48-34 into halftime.
"Players didn't execute quite well on guarding against opponents' three-pointers and fast breaks in the first half," admitted China's head coach Xu Limin.
However, the Chinese players showed their fortitude after the restart to commence an 11-0 run midway through the third quarter, and cut Canada's margin to one with Han's layup. China trailed by four points heading into the final period.
China induced another comeback early in the last quarter and led for the first time since the start of the match after Huang Sijing hit a three-pointer with 5:21 remaining.
The neck-to-neck contention continued as both sides missed several attacks afterwards. Captain Shao Ting converted all of four free throws in the final one and a half minutes to keep China 75-71 ahead with 21.7 seconds from time. The ensuing steal from Huang Sijing proved pivotal to China's win.
For coach Xu, the Chinese players felt much less burden than their opponents, which proved quite important when the team came back into contention.
Kia Nurse had 18 points for Canada. Teammates Achonwa and Jamie Scott added 13 and 10 respectively.
China will compete with France for the fifth place. The world No. 3 France reacted strongly to their quarterfinal loss with an 84-62 rout of Nigeria in an earlier match.
"First of all, we should have the desire to win. We need to display our character and spirit in the match," Xu pointed out.