TENERIFE, Spain (AP) — The Latest on the FIBA Women's World Cup (all times local):
Ting Shao scored 15 points and China beat Latvia 64-61 in the opener of the FIBA Women's World Cup on Saturday.
China (1-0) jumped out to an early 11-point lead on Latvia, which struggled from the field missing 15 of its first 19 shots. The newcomers rallied though and took their first lead of the game early in the third quarter, much to the delight of their fans, who came out in force complete with flags and drums.
Latvia led 53-51 early in the fourth before Siyu Wang hit a 3-pointer to give China a lead it wouldn't relinquish. But Latvia had a chance in the final few seconds. Down 62-61 with 3 seconds left, Kitija Laska, who stars for South Florida, missed an off-balance runner from the top of the key. Liwei Yang got the rebound and made both free throws a second later.
Latvia couldn't get off a final shot. The victory gave the Chinese team a leg up to most likely finish second in the group with the U.S. and Senegal the other two teams in the pool.
Anete Steinberga led Latvia (0-1) with 15 points.
The FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup gets underway on Saturday with eight games. The U.S. will tip off against Senegal in its quest for a third consecutive championship, something the Americans have never done in their storied history.
While the U.S. has been the dominant force in the sport for the past few decades, Latvia, Belgium and Puerto Rico are making their debuts in the tournament. Belgium and Puerto Rico cap off the first night facing each other while Latvia plays China to tip things off.
Other games on Saturday include: Australia-Nigeria; Korea-France; Turkey-Argentina; Greece-Canada; and Japan Spain.
The Americans are led by five-time participant Sue Bird and her backcourt partner Diana Taurasi. The pair has helped the U.S. win the last two titles, beating host Spain for the 2014 championship.