CROCS WIN NAIL-BITER TO START FIBA UNDER-17 WORLD CUP
After a tight beginning that saw both teams trying to settle into the groove of an international competition, Kobe Williamson was the spark with six first-quarter points.
Joel Capetola then recorded a dunk off a steal and Luke Travers hit a lay-up on the buzzer to see the Crocs finish the opening term on a 10-5 run and lead by six.
The Domincan Republic responded with an explosive second quarter though, bullying Australian down low while also knocking down a couple of key three-pointers to reverse the scoreline and take a ten-point edge into the main break.
Half-time came at an opportunistic time for the Aussies and they were able to stem the flow in the third, not letting their opponents get too far out of reach as they slowly reeled in the deficit.
There was still work to do in the fourth quarter but the Crocs had all the momentum and they raced back in front with the first 15 points of the fourth quarter.
Wani Swaka Lo Buluk (ten points, five rebounds) and Capetola both connected on three-point plays while Hunter Clarke (three points, two boards) and Tamuri Wigness were instrumental in setting up their team mates with open looks.
Just as frustrating for the Dominican Republic was the Crocs’ defence as Wigness (six points, four assists) harassed them all the way up the court and Capetola (a team-high 14 points) recorded a big block on the perimeter to hold them scoreless for almost six minutes in the final term.
The Dominicans had one final charge left in them, taking a one-point lead with just 30 seconds to go as Wigness had a few nervous moments with consecutive turnovers.
Travers (11 points, seven rebounds) responded by hitting two clutch free-throws and he then had a huge rejection to force the Dominican Republic to set up from the baseline.
They were unable to get a clean look on the inbounds play though and Luke Jackson stole a high pass, hitting a free-throw at the other end of the floor after he was fouled.
That meant the door was open for one last shot for the Dominicans but their three-point attempt fell short with the Crocs earning a hard-fought two-point victory.
Despite the close nature of the contest, coach Justin Schueller was still able to give court time to his entire roster with 11 players hitting the scoreboard and eight recording an assist.
The efforts of Jackson (11 points, 13 rebounds) and Williamson (11 points, eight boards) also helped the Crocs win the rebound count by 13 but they will be looking to improve their 4-21 shooting performance from beyond the arc before they take on what is expected to be a tougher opponent in Turkey tomorrow.
Find the box score here and watch a replay of the game vs. Dominican Republic below.
The Crocs now back up tomorrow against Turkey, their highest ranked opponent in the group stage, with tip-off scheduled for 4.30am.
You can watch every game of the Crocs’ Under-17 World Cup campaign via Basketball Australia’s Facebook page or on FIBA’s YouTube channel here.
The Australian Crocs Schedule for the 2018 FIBA Under-17 World Cup (all times AEST):
July 2: Australia vs. Turkey at 4.30am
July 4: Australia vs. Puerto Rico at 2.15am
July 5: Round of 16
July 7: Quarter-Finals
July 8: Semi-Finals
July 9: Medal Games
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