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Top teams arrive for Asian Meet basketball


Chennai : With the arrival of the “Big Four” – Korea, Chinese Taipei, Japan and China, the excitement ahead of the 23rd FIBA Asian Women’s basketball championship, commencing here Thursday, was fairly apparent.

Though there are high expectations of a strong Indian performance, the focus would be more on the trio that has dominated the women’s Asian basketball scene and it is more than likely that the three teams would again make it to the 2010 World championship scheduled to be held in Czech Republic.

In all, 12 teams will vie for the three spots available to Asia in the World Championship. Korea and China have been regulars while Chinese Taipei took part in the 2006 Worlds in Brazil at the expense of Japan.

Japanese coach Fumikazu Nakagawa expressed confidence of his team qualifying for the 2010 World Cup following a successful training-cum-competition tour of New Zealand recently, winning both the matches.

With Yuko Oga, the only Japanese players in the WNBA league in the United States, representing Phoenix Mercury, having fully recovered from a wrist injury and back in the National squad, Nakagawa felt that her presence has considerably brightened Japan’s qualification chances.

Likewise, nine times champions China, led by Miao Lijie, and title holders Korea too are full strength. The two, along with Japan and Chinese-Taipei have always finished in the top four since 1988.

Meanwhile, the Indian team, skippered by Geetu Anna Jose, has been training at the venue, though it remains to be seen whether they can retain their spot in Level 1, leave alone winning the tournament or qualifying for the 2010 World Championship.

India will be up against China, Chinese-Taipei, Japan, Korea and Thailand in Level 1 while Level 2 has Lebanon, Malaysia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.

The top two teams from Level 2 will play off against the bottom two teams from Level 1 to decide two qualifiers for Level 1 in the next championship.