GOLDEN CROCS WIN FIBA UNDER-16 ASIAN CHAMPIONSHIPS
Australia’s main advantage through the tournament had been their front court size but China had the height to match them in the paint and they utilised it to great effect early, opening up a 13-6 lead.
Luke Jackson was able to settle the Crocs though before Jay Rantall and Luke Travers drilled three-pointers.
Travers was also active at the defensive end of the floor with two steals and he took over the game in the second period, punishing China to move into double-figures while Tamuri Wigness set him up for a couple of baskets as well, tallying five assists by the half.
The Crocs scored the last six points of the second quarter to turn a six-point deficit after the first break into a four-point lead but China came out with renewed energy as they knocked down five of their first seven shots in the second half.
It looked like it would be a back-and-forth affair from that point on but Wani Swaka Lo Buluk (21 points, six rebounds) turned the tide, scoring eight in a row himself including two three-pointers with Wigness (20 points, five boards, seven assists) again setting up the offensive sets.
Wigness hit a lay-up as well to cap an 11-0 run for Australia and they were in complete control heading into the final quarter.
A barrage from long range then sealed the deal for the Crocs with Swaka Lo Buluk, Rantall (five points, three assists) and Liam Herbert (ten points) all splashing buckets and when they did miss, their forwards were there to crash the offensive glass and give their team mates second chance opportunities.
Jackson (six points, 11 rebounds) and Joel Capetola (four points, seven boards) were integral in the Crocs’ attack on the rebounds and even when Australia could not convert on a possession, they were able to run precious seconds off the clock as time ran out for China to mount any sort of a comeback.
Travers was outstanding for the contest, scoring a game-high 22 points on 9-13 shooting with eight rebounds, three assists, four steals and two blocks.
Find the box score here and watch the replay below including the medal presentations.
A perfect tournament for the Crocs saw them finish their first foray into the Asian region unbeaten to claim the Under-16 Asian Champs gold medal while also qualifying for the Under-17 World Cup later this year.
Doing it without Hunter Clarke for most of the week after he suffered a head knock in their first game, the Crocs were dominant under coach Justin Schueller with an average winning margin of 30 points.
Due to the delayed nature of this tournament, the Crocs do not have to wait long before heading to Argentina when they will take on the best in the world between June 30-July 6.
With silver medals from 2012 and 2014, Australia are the second most successful team in Under-17 World Cup history and they will be aiming to move up one step on the podium in 2018.
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