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Indonesia, Japan win Badminton Asia Team Championships

Mohammad Ahsan and Fajar Alfian powered Indonesia to its third straight continental crown after winning the 2020 Badminton Asia Manila Team Championships, Sunday at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum.

Indonesia defeated regional rival Malaysia, 3-1, in the finale of this tournament backed by SMART Communications Inc., MVP Sports Foundation, Leisure and Resorts World Corporation, Cignal, and TV5.

Ahsan and Alfian shook off Ong Yew Sin and Teo Ee Yi in the first game of the second doubles match, 21-18. The duo took control of the second, 21-17, to take the tie and keep Indonesia's place at the top of the biennial meet.

Despite playing with another partner other than Hendra Setiawan, Ahsan knew that he would work well with anyone including Alfian.

"During training, we are used to changing partners, so we'll get used to playing together. We are very happy and now we're focused on the next Thomas Cup," he continued.

World no. 5 Anthony Ginting needed to fight hard to snag the opening frame against Lee Zii Jia, 22-20, before taking control of the second game at 21-16, to put the defending champions on top after the first singles match.

Ginting trailed 8-11 after the first interval but was able to get his bearings and forced the reigning Southeast Asian Games champion to errors late in the first game to ultimately get the advantage.

"The Minions" tandem of Marcus Gideon and Kevin Sakamuljo then made it a 2-0 lead for Indonesia after taking down Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik.

Gideon and Sakamuljo had to accomplish a similar turnaround to get the first, 22-20, before wrapping up the win in the second at a more comfortable 21-16 victory.

Cheam June Wei shook off several title-clinching points from reigning Asian Games gold medalist Jonatan Christie, taking the deciding frame to keep Malaysia in the battle after 68 minutes of play, 21-16, 17-21, 24-22.

Muhammad Ardianto, Firman Kholik, Shesar Rhustavito, and Hendra Setiawan complete the Indonesian squad.

Japan and Korea took the bronzes and will join both Indonesia and Malaysia in the 2020 Thomas Cup in Aarhus, Denmark.

In the women's competition, Sayaka Takahashi stepped up once more and brought Japan its second consecutive title.

Japan capped its dominant campaign with a 3-0 sweep of Korea in this tournament backed by SMART Communications Inc., MVP Sports Foundation, Leisure and Resorts World Corporation, Cignal, and TV5.

Takahashi stopped Sung Ji Hyun to take the crown for Japan in the second singles match, 21-16, 21-12, in a tussle that lasted for 24 minutes.

"I was very confident that we can be champions with this team," Takahashi shared. "I'm happy that we became champions. It was a good experience for the next ones to come."

Former world no. 1 Akane Yamaguchi needed to summon her experience to deny Korean young stalwart An Se Young in three games, 21-18, 19-21, 23-21, to put Japan on the board after the opening singles match.

An arrived at match point 20-16 as Yamaguchi succumbed to errors in that stretch, but the Japanese veteran coasted along and eventually leveled the game at 20. She then consolidated her lone match point of the rubber to get the win for her side.

Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota later fended off Lee Seo Hee and Shin Seung Chan in the lone doubles match to put the eventual champions at the 2-0 lead, 21-16, 21-16.

Also part of Japan's team are Aya Ohori, Riko Gunji, Mayu Matsumoto, Nami Matsuyama, Wakana Nagahara, and Chiharu Shida.

Malaysia and Thailand were awarded the bronze medals.

Korea, Malaysia, and Thailand also join Japan in the 2020 Uber Cup slated from May 16 to 24 in Aarhus, Denmark.