AUSSIES FINISH SECOND AT FIBA 3X3 CHENGDU CHALLENGER
Eight teams from around the world were invited to compete in the women’s part of the tournament and Australia, represented by Bec Cole, Alice Kunek, Renae Garlepp and Jasmine Simmons, came in as the third lowest ranked team.
The Aussies cruised through the opening day of competition though, defeating sixth-ranked Netherlands 21-12 as well as a team from Belarus, 20-15.
The following day, Australia then won 20-11 against a Chinese Under-23 team who, despite their age, were the second-highest ranked team in the competition.
That set up a Semi-Final clash with Serbia and Australia faced their toughest test so far with the scores tied at 8 halfway through.
It was a physical encounter as well with the Serbians throwing their weight around and that helped them grab a two-point lead before Simmons’ mid-range game and Kunek from beyond the arc pegged the scoreline back to 13-13 with three minutes to go.
Garlepp was then able to reel in an offensive board and that seemed to spark the Aussies as Cole followed up with three quick points.
That gave them some separation and their defence was just as impressive, finishing the game on a 12-2 run for a 22-14 victory as Kunek completed the game with a friendly roll on a two-point bomb.
Australia advanced to the final where they took on host nation and number one ranked country in 3×3 women’s basketball, China.
Cole, the tournament’s leading scorer with 39 points overall, got them started with two quick drives and while China followed with the next four points, Garlepp had the answer from long range.
The game remained tight for the entire contest with neither team able to gain any separation until Australia finally pulled in front by three points with 1:40 remaining courtesy of a Kunek two-pointer.
China caught fire from distance as well though, tying the game at 19-19 with 30 seconds to go.
Kunek then had a look which put Australia back in front but just stepping over the two-point line, her shot counted for one and China reset quickly, getting open from long-range to win the game by a point, 21-20, and break the hearts of the Aussie women.
The replay of both the Semi-Final and Final can be viewed below thanks to FIBA 3×3.
Despite the tough finish for Australia, they still earned $2,000 USD for their efforts and with the tournament being a high-level event on the FIBA calendar, they also gained significant ranking points to benefit Australia in their quest to reach the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
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