The Chinese girls' basketball team surprised even themselves when they took the gold today at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore. China held off an Australian rally to take the championship game, 33-29, as the Aussies settled for silver. Team USA took the bronze with a 34-16 victory over Canada.
"We expected to get into the top eight, but we didn't expect to claim the title," said Ma Xueya, China's top scorer, who finished with 15 points. "We worked hard in each match and we never gave up and I'm very proud of winning a first Youth Olympic Games gold medal."
The basketball competition in the Youth Olympics, a dream of International Olympic Committee Jacques Rogge, is limited to athletes aged 16 to 17 (born between January 1, 1993 and December 31, 1994). The basketball games have featured a half-court, three-on-three format, played in two five-minute halves. The game is won by the first team to score 33 points or the one in the lead at the end of regulation, whichever comes first. The format promotes a fast, exciting pace and places less emphasis on depth of talent than the traditional five-on-five, full-court format. At the same time, all three players on the floor at any time must be adept at the game, as there is little opportunity to "hide" a weaker player between one or two stars.