Written by Oliver Kay.

Spain came out swinging for the fences a in the first quarter. They commanded proceedings from the opening possession, with Aixa Wone Aranez blocking Alexandra Fowler under the basket.

Spain quickly got out to a four-point lead, thanks in large part to the aggressive play of Spanish big, Lola Pendande Mendez.

Although the Gems defence struggled to deal with Spain throwing their weight around early, there were signs of life on offence. Lily Scanlon and Jazmin Shelley were able to slice past Spain’s defence to the basket but were just unable to finish.

The Gems were finally able to get points on the scoreboard via a gorgeous inbound play to Isobel Anstey and ended the quarter trailing 8-15.

The second quarter was a different story for the Gems. In what has become a pattern for them at this World Cup, they flipped a switch. Thanks to some terrific sharpshooting from Miela Goodchild, who hit back-to-back threes, they went on an 8-0 run to take the lead for the first time in the game at the 7:09 mark.

From the midway point of the quarter onwards, the game became a back and forth slugfest, with five lead changes. Each team took turns in trading punches, with one great offensive possession after another.

Australia was finally able to give themselves some breathing room in the last three minutes. Agnes Emma-Nnopu got in on the scoring, rapidly pouring in five points. Isabelle Bourne quickly followed up with a quick five points of her own, with the pair leading Australia to a 10-3 run to close out the half leading, 33-25.

Australia carried their momentum into the second half. Jaz Shelley opened proceedings with a long two-point jump shot thanks to a long pinpoint pass from Isobel Anstey.

Spain struggled to get into their rhythm thanks to a steady stream of clumsy fouls and turnovers. At one point in the third quarter, Spain had committed a total of 16 turnovers to Australia’s eight.

Australia’s rebounding again emerged as a serious weapon. With Alexandra Fowler leading the charge, the Gems were able to get consistent second looks at the basket thanks to nine offensive rebounds in the third quarter alone. Shyla Heal encapsulated the Gems tremendous play with a crafty jab-step into a three. The Gems went into the final quarter leading 48-39.

The fourth quarter picked up right where the third left off. Heal again showed off her shooting ability, nailing back-to-back threes. She would finish the game as the leading scorer with 14 points, shooting a perfect 100% from the three-point line off three attempts.

Spain was able to stage a late fightback. They played with admirable desperation and managed to claw Australia’s lead back to six points, thanks to an Ana Palma Jorge three. However, the comeback was quickly snuffed out by a Jaz Shelley layup as the Gems secured their place in the under-19 world cup final.

Full box score here.

Australia will now play the winner of the USA and Belgium game tomorrow night.

The Australian Gems Schedule for the 2019 FIBA Under-19 World Cup (all times AEST):

July 20: Gems def by. USA 79-56.
July 21: Gems def. Hungary 81-71.
July 23: Gems def. Korea 78-59.
July 24: Gems def. Colombia 62-53.
July 26: Gems def. Mali 63-51.
July 27: Gems def. Spain 64-55.
July 28: Medal Games 10:30 pm

The Gems are through to the Final of the FIBA Under-19 Women’s World Cup after beating Spain, 64-55 in Thailand. The Gems kept their cool after a dominant start from Spain and were able to control the rest of the game thanks to great rebounding and a patient offence.

Basketball Australia

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