China advanced to the quarterfinals as the second-placed finisher in Group A at the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup.
SYDNEY, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) -- China secured a top two finish from Group A with a vital 81-55 win over Belgium on Tuesday ahead of the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup quarterfinals.
After its fourth win from five games, China will advance as the group's second seed behind the unbeaten United States.
China led 54-45 after three quarters before powering away from Belgium, who had finished fourth at the 2018 World Cup, in a blistering final term assault.
Li Meng top-scored with 16 points for China, who saw five players hit double figures.
Kyara Linskens had 14 points and seven rebounds for Belgium, who finished third in the group with a 3-2 record.
"It was a physical game at the beginning and in the third quarter. We had better rotation and physical energy distribution, so we kept giving them pressure," said Li.
With major stakes at play, it was a tense opening with scoring at a minimum, but China shrugged off a cold-shooting start to unleash its renowned fast paced tempo, with Wu Tongtong's layup beating the buzzer to give China a 17-14 lead at the first break.
China's momentum continued into the second quarter as center Han Xu scored a layup to stretch the lead to 27-18 in front of loud support from a large contingent of Chinese fans.
China maintained its advantage to lead 35-28 at halftime.
Belgium attempted a rally in the third quarter with a three-pointer from Bille Massey reducing China's lead to 50-45, but four quick points from Wu gave her team some breathing room.
Buckets early in the fourth quarter from Huang Sijing and Zhang Ru strengthened China's stranglehold and they powered away in confidence mood ahead of the knockout phase.
China's quarterfinal opponents will be determined after the final group matches on Tuesday at the 10-day tournament in Sydney. Canada, France, host nation Australia and Serbia have already qualified as the top four teams from Group B.
"We need a good rest tomorrow given an intense game schedule in the group phase. Sometimes we had to play two matches in less than 24 hours, which was quite energy-consuming," said China's head coach Zheng Wei.
"We will review our problems in the previous matches and make some adjustments. We also need to have specific strategies after we know our upcoming opponents," she added.
Puerto Rico grabbed the competition's final quarterfinal spot after a 92-73 victory over South Korea in Group A.