USA hold off China to claim 25th consecutive FIBA ​​Basketball World Cup victory

SYDNEY — A’ja Wilson admitted she was tired.

The WNBA MVP had just arrived in Australia less than 24 hours ago fresh from a championship and the United States were facing their toughest World Cup opponent.

After a slow start, Wilson was eye-catching in the fourth quarter, finishing with 20 points to help the United States beat China 77-63 on Saturday.

“I don’t know how I do it,” Wilson said. “You just put things aside. … It’s like riding a bike. I’m exhausted, I’m not going to lie about that.”

The United States have now won 25 consecutive World Cup matches since their 2006 semi-final loss to Russia. The Americans advanced to the quarter-finals and are one step away from equaling their record 26 games from 1998-2006.

Both of these teams entered the match undefeated in the tournament. The United States (3-0) led 25-20 with 6:23 left in the first half before beating China 19-5 for the remainder of the second quarter, including the final 13 points. Alyssa Thomas and Breanna Stewart combined seven of 13 points in the game-changing flurry.

Wilson closed the half with a comeback that made it 44-25. She and her Las Vegas teammates Chelsea Gray and Kelsey Plum were playing their first match since arriving in Australia on the final day. The trio were in Las Vegas to celebrate the franchise’s first WNBA championship before arriving in Sydney.

The United States led 56-40 with 2:18 remaining in the third before China scored the final seven points of the period to move within nine points. The Aces trio scored the first nine points of the fourth quarter to make it a 16-point game again.

“They put me in the best position to score the basketball,” Wilson said of her teammates who found her in the fourth quarter.

China however would not leave. Trailing 67-51, Li Meng scored four points in a 9-0 flurry to take her team to 69-60 with 2 minutes remaining.

Wilson ended the drought with two free throws and a reverse layup to seal the victory.

Li finished with 21 points to lead China (2-1).

China had won victories in their first two games, beating both South Korea and Bosnia and Herzegovina by an average of 55 points. The Chinese team had not faced a defense like that of the United States which had been solid in its first two games.

There was a large pro-China crowd of around 9,400 fans for the game, including Hall of Famer Yao Ming, who is the president of the Chinese Basketball Association. It was shown on the video board and received a huge ovation from the crowd.

“The Chinese fan base, whether it was local fans here or overseas, was just tremendous,” said USA coach Cheryl Reeve. Their support created a fun environment. I heard people from the United States. Here’s what you want.”


Plum went to the foul line at one point in the second half and the fans booed her. She smiled and calmly took the two free throws.

“I heard some noise. I don’t think I’ve been booed in a long time,” Plum said with a laugh. “I don’t think Connecticut [fans] even booed me.”


Both Plum and Gray said they got Wi-Fi on the long flight from the United States to Australia to study the American Playbook.


In Saturday’s other matches, Belgium took on Puerto Rico and South Korea took on Bosnia and Herzegovina.


China: Play Puerto Rico on Monday.

United States: play South Korea on Monday.

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