GLIDERS CLAIM SILVER AND ROLLERS MOVE TO GOLD MEDAL GAME AT AOZ QUALIFIERS
Following their earlier loss to China in the group stage of the AOZ Qualifiers, Australia proved they had learned their lessons with a 16-12 opening period in the gold medal playoff.
Sarah Vinci got the Gliders off to a hot start before Amber Merritt (ten points) and Cobi Crispin (17 points, 11 rebounds, four assists) consolidated their position.
China responded midway through the period but Shelley Cronau (six points, three rebounds) and Leanne Del Toso (five points) had the answers to give the Gliders a quarter-time edge.
Australia threatened to pull away a couple of times in the second term but the home side reeled them in to trim the deficit to just one at the main break and then a true defensive tussle broke out in the third.
Neither team was able to gain any ascendancy in a 8-8 quarter as the lead changed hands several times and the game was set for a thrilling final stanza.
A couple of early buckets gave China a little breathing room but Hannah Dodd and Del Toso never let them get too far away before Crispin began to peg them back on the scoreboard.
While they closed within a possession with a couple of minutes remaining, the shot from Crispin would be the Gliders’ last as they failed to connect again and they were then forced to foul China in the dying moments which blew the 57-46 margin out.
Find the box score here.
Bouncing back from the disappointment of Rio, the Gliders can now use this tournament to propel them into the 2018 IWBF World Championships and return the team to glory.
The Rollers faced their toughest competition of the tournament so far in the Semi-Final, with Korea scoring the first points of the game and restricting Australia from gaining a lead until midway through the opening term.
They eked out a three-point advantage at quarter-time with their hustle on the glass and around the court exemplified by Jannik Blair (three points, two steals) who kept busy at both ends while Tom O’Neill-Thorne (16 points, three assists) made the most of any extra possessions, quickly getting into double-figures on the scoreboard.
Korea were sticking close to them before Tristan Knowles (nine points, five rebounds seven assists) finally gave the Rollers some breathing space right before half-time, scoring six points in a matter of minutes while Michael Auprince (eight points) and Brett Stibners (ten points) also chimed in to give Australia a ten-point lead at the main break.
They then carried that momentum over into the third period with O’Neill-Thorne exploding for Australia’s first eight points of the quarter.
Shaun Norris (13 points, three assists, three steals) and Bill Latham (ten points, seven boards) then hit double-figures as well, helping the Rollers to a 14-point run that gave them a commanding lead while finishing off a dominant 28-9 third term.
Every Roller was then able to get on court again as they cruised into the gold medal game with Luke Pople (six points) and Sam White (two points, one assist) getting in on the act as well.
Find the box score here.
The Rollers will now face Iran for the gold medal at 5pm AEDT Saturday as they aim to complete an undefeated tournament.
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