Global EditionASIA 中文双语Français
Home / Sports / Basketball

Hoops and dreams

By SHI FUTIAN | China Daily | Updated: 2023-12-18 09:53
Share - WeChat
Wang Siyu played a key role for Team China during back-to-back title runs at this year’s FIBA Women’s Basketball Asia Cup and the Asian Games in Hangzhou, where the 28-year-old scored the winning basket in the final against Japan. Xinhua

Star guard Wang Siyu looking to 2024 with confidence after coming up clutch in Team China's year of continental dominance

After helping Team China to victory at both the FIBA Women's Basketball Asia Cup and the Hangzhou Asian Games, 2023 has been a year to remember for Wang Siyu, a key member of the Chinese women's basketball team. And these victories have motivated the 28-year-old guard to make more golden memories next year, especially at the Paris Olympics.

"For me, 2023 is all about love and passion, which are the key motivators that keep me moving forward. This has been a year full of challenges and I feel that I have gained a lot and grown more than ever," Wang told China Daily.

"I have experienced so many crucial moments this year in many crucial games. I have experienced injuries and the journey back to the court and I have met more lovely people on and off the court."

After a 12-year wait, the Chinese women's basketball team returned to the top step of the podium at the Asia Cup, beating defending champion Japan 73-71 in a thrilling final in Sydney in July.

The roller-coaster decider was one that will live long in the memory for Chinese hoops fans.

The teams were tied 17-all at the end of the first quarter. Team China only managed nine points in the second period, giving fans a major scare. However, the nation's aces bounced back after halftime, displaying remarkable resilience.

Three months later, in another nail-biter, Team China again edged Japan, prevailing 74-72 at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Gymnasium to claim gold at the Hangzhou Asian Games — and it was Wang who sank the winning basket.

"For me, the most memorable moment in 2023 was when we won the Asia Cup. In the final, both teams were at their best. Both offense and defense were really intense and the pace of the game was relentless," recalled Wang.

"There were some ups and downs during the match, but we showed great resilience. None of us gave up, and we only managed to win it in the last few seconds. There was some really brilliant and exciting action.

"So, in that final winning moment, I was so thrilled and proud of our team. Every single player had tried her best. And that was when I once again realized the importance of teamwork."

Wang, who fought hard to recover from an injury to her right shoulder to rejoin the national team ahead of the Asia Cup, said that not all moments in 2023 were perfect and there were some regrets. However, she believed that all the setbacks were all valuable experiences that helped her, and the national team, to grow.

"Some fans call me the 'queen of clutch time'. Actually that's because of my love for the sport, which makes me super focused. I always have a strong urge to win, and I'm fearless on the court," Wang added.

"Since I was a kid, I never easily gave up on anything. I love the purity of chasing a goal, and that's why I am very devoted to my career. But when I actually play during a match, I like to keep calm, especially when we face challenges and tough situations.

"There is always pressure that we cannot avoid, and my solution to that is to turn it into motivation. We need to keep a positive mind in tough spots."

Wang told China Daily that, off the court, her favorite way to relax is reading, which brings her peace and a sense of calm. And, unlike her energetic performances during competition, Wang said she is actually pretty quiet away from the sport.

As well as posting wins on the floor, Wang also likes to set an example to the younger generation.

"The way that we play this sport is a testimony to our resilience and unyielding spirit. Such spirit is why we can win and what can truly inspire the next generation. It helps us always reach our next target and be brave in chasing it," said Wang.

The next target for Team China is to net victory at the upcoming Olympics. The first step to achieving that golden goal is earning a ticket to Paris. The FIBA Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournaments will be held from Feb 8 to 11 next year in four cities around the world.

Path to Paris

While 12 teams will compete in Paris, there are 10 Olympic berths available through the qualifying tournaments, with France assured of a spot as the Olympic host and the US handed a place for winning the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup in 2022. However, while both have guaranteed spots in Paris, they will still take part in the qualifiers.

Team China will host France, New Zealand and Puerto Rico in Xi'an, Shaanxi province. The top two finishers, excluding France, will earn Olympic tickets. The qualifiers feature four groups, totaling 16 teams. In the two groups without France and the US, the top three finishers will advance.

After the draw for the qualifiers was made in November, Team China head coach Zheng Wei wrote on social media: "The journey continues. There are no weak teams in the group. I hope all our players keep growing in their league matches. Offense and defense are equally important. It's like sailing against the current — we'll try our hardest to move forward, otherwise we'll be pushed back."

As for Wang, she has faith that teamwork will again be the key to reaching the Paris Games.

"Basketball is a team sport, and we face the ups and downs, both on and off the court, together as a team. Everyone is important to the team. And through year after year of training sessions and matches, we are becoming sharper and smarter as a team," she said.

"I trust my team 100 percent, and this is the key to each of our victories. Those shining moments in 2023 make me believe that passion and love, for the game and each other, will always help us move forward. Olympic qualification will take place during the Spring Festival, and I hope what we've learned this year will help us achieve our goals in 2024."

Most Popular


What's Hot
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349