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Korea breeze through group stage to reach FIBA Asian Cup quarterfinals
2022-08-20
Korea will face New Zealand in the quarterfinals of the 2022 FIBA Asian Cup on Thursday after tearing through the group stage of the continental basketball tournament without dropping a single game.
 
Korea cruised past China, Chinese Taipei and Bahrain last week to top Group B and qualify for the quarterfinals without having to go through the second- and third-place playoffs.
 
Korea won its opening game on July 12, beating old rivals China 93-81 at Istora Gelora Bung Karno in Jakarta, Indonesia, with a dominant second half of the game seeing Korea start to pull ahead to kick off its Asian Cup campaign on the right foot.


 
Beating FIBA World No. 29 China was a big feather in the cap for No. 30 Korea, who entered the tournament as the fifth-highest ranked team. China is also by far the winningest team in the history of the Asian Cup, having taken a huge 16 titles — 11 more than any other country.
 
With China taken care of, Korea made quick work of No. 69 Chinese Taipei on on July 14, building a substantial lead over the first two quarters to allow the team to sit back and coast for the rest of the game. 
 
With Korea already up 53-35 at the halfway point, a tight third quarter and a loss in the fourth did little to disrupt the win, with the final score at 87-73 in Korea's favor.
 
The game against No. 106 Bahrain was a surprisingly close one, with Korea winning by just five points — 78-73. Unlike in the earlier games, Korea slipped behind in the second quarter and had to spend the rest of the game making up the points.
 
Korea's Ra Gun-ah proved crucial in all three group stage games, leading on points against both China, with 25, and Chinese Taipei, with 19, and on rebounds against China, with 14, Chinese Taipei, with 12, and Bahrain, with eight.
 
New Zealand, who are the third-highest ranked team in the tournament at No. 27, advanced to the quarterfinals through the playoffs after finishing second in Group D — unexpectedly slipping behind Lebanon with two wins and a loss.

New Zealand's sole loss came at the hands of world No. 54 Lebanon, dropping three quarters in a role to fall behind by a significant margin in the 82-76 loss on July 15.
 
In the playoffs, New Zealand easily cruised past Syria, 97-58, to earn a spot in the quarterfinals against Korea. The two sides also faced off in the third-place playoff at the 2017 FIBA Asian Cup, with Korea winning 80-71.
 
If Korea are able to beat New Zealand in the quarterfinal on Thursday they will face either world No. 3 Australia, the highest-ranked team in Asia, or No. 38 Japan in what promises to be an especially tough route to the final. Australia are the current reigning champion, having breezed past Iran in the 2017 final.
 
As of press time Wednesday, Iran were set to face Jordan and Lebanon to take on China later that day.
 
Korea and New Zealand will face off in the final quarterfinal at 8 p.m. on Thursday at Istora Gelora Bung Karno.
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