Awesome in Amman: Japan record historic five-peat at 2021 FIBA Women's Asian Cup

Tokyo 2020 basketball Olympic silver medallists Japan edged a thrilling final in Jordan over arch-rivals China.

By Ken Browne
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Japan women's basketball team have followed up on their Olympic heroics at Tokyo 2020 with a fifth-consecutive FIBA Women's Asian Cup triumph.

A 78-73 victory over China puts Japan in a league of their own in Asian women's basketball, as they are now the only team ever to have won the continental showpiece five times in-a-row.

It was a pulsating final between two top teams, the lead changing hands several times in an exhibition of world-class basketball.

For Japan it was the Saori Miyazaki show - she had a game-high 26 points, 7 rebounds and 11 assists - while Monica Okoye chipped in with a useful 21 points.

Miyazaki made up for the absence of Tokyo 2020 record-breaker Rui Machida with a stunning performance in the final, helping her team to overcome a bigger, stronger Chinese team with her quick passing and even quicker thinking.

For China, Huang Sijing led the scoring for the Chinese with 18 points while Li Yueru banked 16.

It was a third final defeat in five years to Japan for China, meaning the continental powerhouse has now failed to lift the Asian Cup for ten years, their last victory coming in 2011.

But all is not lost for the Chinese dragons, whose new generation of Li Yuan (21), 2.01m (6'7) Li Yueru (22), and WNBA New York Liberty centre Han Xu, 2.06m (6'9) are set for a promising future.

Japan clinch it in the fourth

The Chinese started brightly, looking for their big bangers in the paint, Yang Liwei and Li Yueru dominating the glass.

They built up a 10-2 lead, but a Miyazaki steal and layup sparked the Japanese into life.

Japan's blitz defence, lightning-fast ball movement, and three-point transitions were mainstays of their incredible run to the Olympic final at Tokyo 2020, but their accuracy hasn't been as good in this tournament, shooting just over 38 percent from outside the D.

China won the first three quarters 19-21, 17-18, and 16-18, and were in the game to the end.

At 66-66 with 4:01 on the clock, Japan showed greater calm in the fourth quarter, Miyazaki conducting affairs while Monica Okoye came up with some big moments in a dramatic close to the game, notably making a layup while surrounded by four Chinese shirts and drawing the foul.

Japan won Q4 26-16 and took the title for the fifth time in a row, a winning streak that's now ten years long.

It's even more impressive when you consider that the team has seen a big change on the roster after some senior players stepped down after the Olympics, and under new coach Toru Ontsuka.

It has been an excellent season for Japan, who won nation's first Olympic basketball medal for men or women (silver) - and became the first Asian team to reach the podium in women's basketball since China in 1992.