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China lose to France, finish sixth at FIBA Women's World Cup
Shao Ting (L) of China competes during the Class 5-6 match between China and France at the 2018 FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup at Santiago Martin arena in San Cristobal de La Laguna in Tenerife, Spain, Sept. 30, 2018.
TENERIFE, Spain, Sept. 30 -- China lost to France 81-67 to finish sixth place at the 2018 FIBA Women's World Cup here on Sunday.
Captain Shao Ting scored 16 points to lead China. Li Meng helped with 12 points.
China teared up France's sluggish defense to build a 12-5 lead six minutes into the match, including six points from Li Meng, forcing opponents into a timeout.
Shao Ting's two baskets spearheaded another 11-0 run for China to set the score 25-11 later on, but France, the world No. 3 team, snatched eight of following ten points to trail 19-27 as the first quarter ran out.
China just nailed one point through Han Xu's free throw in more than eight minutes, seeing their eight-point relinquished following a 16-1 run by France. Sun Mengran snapped that slid with a driving layup with 1:25 remaining to commence a 6-0 run, while seven turnovers in the quarter cost them 37-36 down into the halftime.
"We made several fast breaks at the start, but France improved their defense, cutting the ties between our guards and other players. Then we felt a bit nervous about that," admitted Shao.
At 50-49 down, France scored the final 12 points late in the third quarter, capped by Romane Bernies' three-point play.
China never came closer than 14 points throughout the final 10 minutes, tying their result four years ago.
"France are a strong side. We hoped to learn something when competing against them and cherished the chance. We never gave up until the end," Shao added.
"Following a good start, we failed to defend quite well at some crucial points. It was something that we paid for in our progress," said Sun Mengran, rating the team's performance at the tournament as "80 to 90 points".
Frenchwoman Sandrine Gruda contributed 16 points. Teammates Marine Johannes and Alexia Chartereau added 11 and 10 respectively.
"I had never thought that we would have started the match so strongly. France are among world top four. They pressed on us quite hard, thus inducing our mistakes afterwards," China's head coach Xu Limin pointed out.
"We didn't give up in the last quarter. Opponents are stronger than us, but we have tried to bridge the gap. That will be more precious than the victory itself," added Xu.
Earlier on Sunday, Canada finished seventh after edging Nigeria 73-72. Despite the loss, Nigeria had already made history, becoming the first African team into the World Cup quarterfinals.