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Home News ‘Female Shaq’ and China triumph in women’s basketball

‘Female Shaq’ and China triumph in women’s basketball

Summer Games 6 August 2023

Members of Team China celebrate their victoryChina celebrate their victory


Great organisation was the key to the success of China women’s basketball team on Saturday in the Chengdu FISU Summer University Games final against Japan.


Liu Yutong (L) of Team China is in competitionLiu Yutong (China) drives against Japan’s Tanaka UfuomaHowever, aside from the team work that led them to a 99-91 victory, the hosts also had their individual hero.


Some call the Beijing Normal University student “Big Baby”, others prefer “Female Shaq”. Her real name is Liu Yutong.


It is almost impossible to miss her presence on the court. Firstly, because of her size and strength, standing at 2.01m. Secondly, and maybe more importantly, due to her status among the fans.


China is a country that is crazy about basketball.


The sport has gained huge popularity in recent decades, thanks in large part to Yao Ming, who joined the Houston Rockets of the NBA in 2002, and was inducted in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016.


The superstar from Shanghai was one of the most impressive athletes at the Beijing 2001 FISU Games.China   Japan [BKB]


The result of that passion for the sport could be witnessed on Saturday night at the Fenghuangshan Sports Park Gymnasium.


But the aura around Liu was something even more special. Whenever “Big Baby” stepped on the court, had the ball, or even better, scored, the crowd’s cheers soared to an unmatched level.


“Sichuan is our blessed land, and so many people like us here,” said a 22-year-old after the final buzzer.


“I can inspire a lot of young people to train in basketball. I am really proud of the fact that because of me they can discover the mystery of this sport,” she added.


Liu has a strong connection to Chengdu, playing for the local Sichuan Yuanda in the WCBA.


Finland women's bronze basketballFinland celebrates their first ever FISU Games medal from their bronze medal game win over Chinese TaipeiShe is now viral on social media thanks to the comparison with legendary NBA star Shaquille O’Neal.


“She may look very lovable, but every time she steps on the court, she brings power and domination,” said fan Dong Peize.


“Liu creates a lot of energy that has a huge impact on the crowd. Thanks to her or Han Xu, the fans can believe in their home team.”


With 16 points, all scored in the first half, Liu was one of the main stars of the FISU final.


After the break she didn’t add any as China was able to rely on a variety of other weapons, notably Zhang Jingyi (21 points), Song Kexin (20) and the team’s most experienced leader, Han Xu (18), who plays for the WNBA’s New York Liberty in the United States.


Japan did not go down without a fight but China maintained a comfortable lead for most of the game.


The Japanese excelled from the three point line, going 11 of 21, but it was not enough.


In the bronze medal match, Finland beat Chinese Taipei 56-49, to win the country’s first ever FISU Games basketball medal.


Written by Piotrek Przyborowski, FISU Young Reporter