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Asian Games: Power makes sports beautiful, as Chinese athletes show


Wang Siyu (#5) of China reacts after making a shot in the basketball women's final against Japan at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, east China's Zhejiang Province, October 5, 2023. /CFP

Wang Siyu (#5) of China reacts after making a shot in the basketball women’s final against Japan at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, east China’s Zhejiang Province, October 5, 2023. /CFP

Wang Siyu (#5) of China reacts after making a shot in the basketball women’s final against Japan at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, east China’s Zhejiang Province, October 5, 2023. /CFP

Chinese athletes won eight of the 36 gold medals awarded at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, east China’s Zhejiang Province, on Thursday.

One of the most significant victories claimed by China was in the basketball women’s final against Japan, 74-72. As the reigning champions of the event, China knocked out Japan in the semifinals in Jakarta in 2018. The two teams are very different in roster building and style of playing. Japan count on speed and defensive aggressiveness as their best weapons, while China have size and power as the team’s biggest advantages.

Both sides took good advantage of their characteristics. Chinese players delivered eye-catching blocks on multiple separation possessions. Offensively, Han Xu, Li Meng and Li Yueru became the three unguardable guns that kept firing in Japan’s paint. The three combined to score 40 points. Li Meng kept charging the rim like a dump truck, and Li Yueru grabbed a court-high four offensive rebounds. Han had the best court vision of the three and continuously found open teammates after distracting extra defensive attention.

Li Meng (L) of China penetrates in the basketball women's final against Japan at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, east China's Zhejiang Province, October 5, 2023. /CFP

Li Meng (L) of China penetrates in the basketball women’s final against Japan at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, east China’s Zhejiang Province, October 5, 2023. /CFP

Li Meng (L) of China penetrates in the basketball women’s final against Japan at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, east China’s Zhejiang Province, October 5, 2023. /CFP

Han’s presence, like a moving Great Wall in China’s defense, made it difficult for Japan to attack the hoop directly, but Japan managed to go around her with well-designed baseline plays and ghost screens. Meanwhile, with their astonishing stamina, Japanese players kept ball-pressuring China’s ball-handlers from the back court for nearly the entire second half. Such sharp defense caused many turnovers by China and led to a series of easy buckets by Japan via fast break.

The score reached 72-72 after Saki Hayashi drained a quick 3-pointer from the left wing for Japan. Then Wang Siyu used Li Yueru’s screen to make an open layup, giving China a two-point lead. Li Yueru managed to deflect Himawari Akaho’s shot without committing a foul in the following possession before Huang Sijing got her second rebound to seal the win for China. It was her ninth rebound in this game, matching Li Yueru with the most among the two teams.

Tian Tao of China competes in the weightlifting men's 96-kilogram event at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, east China's Zhejiang Province, October 5, 2023. /CFP

Tian Tao of China competes in the weightlifting men’s 96-kilogram event at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, east China’s Zhejiang Province, October 5, 2023. /CFP

Tian Tao of China competes in the weightlifting men’s 96-kilogram event at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, east China’s Zhejiang Province, October 5, 2023. /CFP

Players on the women’s basketball team were not the only Chinese athletes who showed muscle to win on Thursday. Tian Tao lifted 390 kilograms, including 180 in snatch and 210 in jerk-and-clean, to secure the title of the weightlifting men’s 96-kilogram event. Ro Kwang Ryol of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was close to beating Tian when he set the new Asian Games record by lifting 216 kg in jerk-and-clean, but he failed to match Tian’s total, having lifted 170 kg in snatch.

Yang Liu and Tuohetaerbieke Tanglatihan added two boxing golds for the host on Thursday night. Yang beat Janjaem Suwannapheng of Thailand in the women’s 60-66-kilogram event by points (5-0). Tuohetaerbieke defeated Eumir Felix Marcial of the Philippines 5-0 in the men’s 71-80-kilogram final.

China’s Li Qiaoqiao won the karate women’s kumite 68-kilogram gold over Laura Alikul of Kazakhstan 4-0.



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