They have another meeting, but for gold: After facing each other in pools, the United States and China meet on Saturday in Sydney (08:00 French time) in an expected final between the two most impressive teams in the World Basketball Championship .
+ The passage of four in the viewfinder
The Americans, contenders for a fourth consecutive world title, a streak they have never equaled (the USSR won five in a row between 1959 and 1975), are largely the favourites.
They defeated Canada (84-43), the author of a solid tournament so far, on Friday when the Chinese won a magnificent showdown against host Australia (61-59) to reach their second final in the competition after 1994 (96-87) against Brazil, already in Sydney.
China are visibly comfortable in Australia and can count on the support of the Superdome crowd (12,000 spectators) on Saturday to attempt the feat against the Americans, who remain in the competition on 29 straight wins (last setback in the 2006 semifinals against Russia). They dominated the Chinese in pools (77-63).
On Friday, the large Chinese diaspora living in Australia more than competed with the supporters of the “Opals” to play their role as the sixth man in a magnificent and exciting game that culminated in this final in which the Australian Ezi Magbegor Summer missed the basket in extra time.
“It’s like playing at home, our fans gave us a lot of energy,” said Chinese coach Zheng Wei.
+ The American hug
The Chinese coach estimated that his team should manage to break out of the American embrace better than in the pool to have a shot at the first world title on Saturday.
“They put a lot of pressure on us in defence. I hope we can do better,” she said.
The Canadians can attest to the American vice that suffocated them from the start of the game (27-7 at the end of the first quarter).
“Defense is one of the strengths of our team,” recognized American coach Cheryl Reeve, who had notably devised a plan to limit the influence of Canada’s top scorer, Bridget Carleton (only 6 points).
“The plan? Alyssa Thomas! Get on her, I threw it at her head,” Reeve explained with a smile.
“Our defense is huge. Sometimes we don’t hit the baskets, but we can always count on our defense. That’s what gets a title.
+ Two rooks against three of a kind
Wilson, who arrived mid-contest after winning the WNBA title with the Las Vegas Aces, continued her rise to power on Friday with a double-double (15 points, 12 rebounds) without using her reserves for the Finals.
Reeve also rested his other two main offenses, Captain Breanna Stewart (17 points on 4/5 on three points) and Thomas (10 points on 100% success).
On Saturday they meet the two Chinese twin towers Han Xu (2.05 m) and Li Yueru (2 m), who play in the Chinese championship like the entire team and share the playing time in the racket.
Against the Australians, Han shone with a double-double (19 points and 10 rebounds) plus five blocks.
China must count on a new capital performance from their pivots and a better address (51% on 2 points, 23% from behind the arc) in the final, especially with the hoped-for return of their full-back Li Meng. “feverish” against the Australians, according to the breeder.
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