Weibo users laud China women’s basketball team after crushing 107-44 win over South Korea in World Cup opener
- China thrash South Korea in opening game in Sydney, with Bosnia and Herzegovina up next on Friday
- Fans praise Zheng Wei’s side on social media – ‘when have Chinese female athletes let us down?’
China enjoyed a flying start at the 2022 Fiba Women’s Basketball World Cup, crushing South Korea 107-44 in their opening game in Sydney, Australia on Thursday.
Zheng Wei’s team built up an early double digit lead and never looked back, with their athleticism and size advantage overwhelming the Koreans at both ends of the court.
All 12 players got minutes, with 11 in total hitting the scoreboard – five of them reaching double figures – for China, who held their opponents to 23 per cent from the field.
Li Meng and Yang Liwei scored 14 points apiece, the latter also adding 3 rebounds and 4 assists. Han Xu scored 13 points, with 15 rebounds and 2 blocks, while Li Yuan had 12 points, 3 rebounds and 4 assists, and Pan Zhenqi had 11 points and 6 rebounds.
It was a near flawless performance for China, who led 54-20 at half-time and will next be in action on Friday against Bosnia and Herzegovina – whom Puerto Rico crushed 82-58 for their first-ever World Cup win.
“I hope to have the best performance to celebrate the motherland’s birthday,” coach Zheng said, ahead of China’s seven-day National Day holiday, which starts on October 1.
The team’s heroics quickly rocketed to the top 10 of the trending list on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social media platform, where fans were gushing in their praise.
“Chinese women’s basketball team is worth a hot search!” wrote one user, with another lauding their star performer as “LeBron Meng”.
“The women’s basketball team is awesome!” was another verdict.
Another netizen was not so surprised by the team’s performance. “Hahahaha, when have Chinese female athletes let us down? Women’s basketball, women’s football, women’s volleyball … Chinese men, come on.”
China will face a far tougher test on Saturday against three-time defending champions the United States in a Group A blockbuster.
Earlier on Thursday, Breanna Stewart drilled 22 points and grabbed four rebounds as the US launched their bid for a fourth straight title with an 87-72 win over Belgium.
The Olympic champions were 48-39 clear at half-time and never relented despite missing three players from their 12-strong roster who are still en route to Australia after the WNBA Finals.
No US team member will wear the number 15 jersey at the World Cup out of respect for star player Brittney Griner, who is languishing in a Russian prison.
Jewell Loyd and Alyssa Thomas both added 14 points while Julie Vanloo scored 13 to lead Belgium on the opening day of the 10-day tournament in Sydney.
The victory was the Americans’ 23rd in a row at the World Cup, an incredible streak that began in 2010. Even more ominously, they have not been beaten in a preliminary-stage game since 1975, by the then-Czechoslovakia.
“It was about what we expected, we knew we were going to come out hard and do things well, but also make mistakes. It was the first time we were on the court with the team,” said Stewart.
Coach Cheryl Reeve said she was particularly pleased with their defence.
“We expected us to be a little bit rough in terms of our chemistry, but we had good chemistry on the defensive side, which I thought was really good,” she said.
Despite the retirement of stalwarts Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi, and absence of Griner, the US remain hot favourites to land an 11th title.
Chelsea Gray, Kelsey Plum and A’ja Wilson, who were all on the Las Vegas Aces team that sealed the WNBA Finals 3-1 against the Connecticut Sun last weekend, have yet to arrive in Australia and did not feature on Thursday.