JAKARTA (Indonesia) – In a monster matchup to end the first day of the FIBA Asia Cup 2022, Korea claimed an important win over China, 93-81.
The win is Korea’s biggest over China in a FIBA competition since 1997 and the second biggest victory ever over their rivals. The last time that Korea beat China by as big of a margin was at Asia Cup 1997 where they also won their last Asia Cup title as well.
As expected, Ra Guna was the main force for Korea in his Asia Cup debut, powering through for 25 points, 14 rebounds, and 3 assists while also knocking down 3 three-pointers. Kang Sang Jae (13 points) also made key baskets as well as Heo Hoon (15 points, 6 assists) whose late game buckets drilled the nail in the coffin.
China played with a short rotation that saw Gu Quan lead the way in scoring with 22 points and 5 rebounds. Zhao Rui was also productive with 20 points, while Sun Minghui stuffed the box score with 14 points on 5-10 shooting, 5 rebounds, and 7 assists before fouling out.
The game was far from over in the middle of the third quarter with 6 minutes to go, but with how confident Ra GunA looked after knocking down a three-pointer and drawing the foul on a made basket in consecutive plays, it felt like it was over.
The three-pointer game Korea the lead for good and while China never let the difference get out of hand, Korea clearly had the upper hand from there.
Aside from leading the team in scoring and rebounding and making the go-ahead basket for Korea, Ra also played superb defense against China’s big men. In a game as physical as this one, Ra committed only one foul and played in all but 3 minutes of this game.
As they say, one of the most underrated skills a play can have is availability. And Ra was certainly available tonight.
Stats don’t lie
It’s not often that China gets outscored in the paint, considering the big men they have in their talent pool. However, that’s what happened in this game as Korea scored 44 points to China’s 24 points in the shaded area. More than just Ra getting his points in the post, Korea also took the advantage of quick cuts by their wings towards the basket to get easy layups as well.
“It was an exciting game today and it was great that we won. At the end it was all about the team’s energy, each player came out with great energy.” – Choo Il Seung, Korea Head Coach