The Jr. NBA World Championship kicked off last night with the Bulleen Boomers and Eltham Wildcats representing Asia Pacific in one of two international pools.
Girls Game 1: Asia Pacific V India
The Boomers girls kicked off the tournament as one of the first for games to be played.
Showing no nerves, the girls dominated from the start. After winning the tip, they wasted no time hitting the scoreboard with Ally Marshall laying in an open shot for the first points of the Jr. NBA World Championship.
A 16-4 first quarter established the pattern for the rest of the game as the Asia Pacific representatives tore it up in transition, leading to 22 made shots inside the keyway.
When asked about the international style of play, Bulleen Boomers combo-guard Ally Marshall emphasised the teams rebounding presence.
“We made sure we were getting more physical, crashing boards and making sure we were going up strong.”
“It was good, a really different style of basketball, it was hard to adjust to but good to get a win under our belt.”
The Indian squad displayed tremendous effort however the size and physicality of the Boomers was too much, leading to a stream of points coming off the team’s defensive pressure.
Out rebounding India 20-11, the girls were able to finish possessions thanks to the tenacity of Ella Mcintyre who finished the game with eight rebounds, five of which were on the offensive end.
The only shot from beyond the arc came courtesy of Aleisha Cadee, who knocked one down from the corner toward the end of the third.
“It was good, pretty weird thinking you’re playing people from a different side of the world” said Aleisha Cadee who had seven points for the game.
Tess Heal led the team in scoring with 14 points, with Maggie Sullivan and Ally Marshall closely behind with 10. Asia Pacific finished the game with a strong lead of India, 57-11 with the Bulleen Boomers side off to a great start in the international pool.
Head Coach of the Asia Pacific Girls Travis Heal shared his thoughts after the win.
“The game went well, I thought when we first started we were a little bit rusty, not quite as sharp as we could have been, but we warmed into the game and ended up winning by 40 or 50 which was good.”
Girls Game 2: Asia Pacific v South America
No time for rest at the Jr. NBA World Championship with the Bulleen girls only have one games rest before they were back on court for their second scheduled game of the day.
South America was again a little undersized in comparison to the Australians and the team was able to capitalise on this.
The first points of the game came from Captain Tess Heal, as she knocked down both free throws to gain the lead, and the team never looked back as they retained the lead for the entirety of the game.
Having a 12-player squad, and NBA rules only allowing ten players on the bench, Aleisha Cadee sat the game out as Tabitha Betson played her first minutes for the championship and it didn’t take long after hitting the court to have an impact.
Unfortunately, Jordyn Kourmadias suffered an injured in Australia and will not be able to take the court for the Championships, meaning only one other player will need to rotate through the tournament.
Out-rebounding the team made up of Argentinian, Brazilian and Uruguayan girls 15-39 for the game, this differential transferred to the score line.
“They were very aggressive and a lot of hands, but we just have to adjust to the new style of game as the referees call not as many fouls here” said Ella McIntyre of the Asia Pacific team.
“South America was very aggressive, we had to be on our bike 24/7”
Already leading 38-16 at halftime, the girls shut out the South Americans in the second half, finishing 58-16. Ella McIntyre led the girls in scoring this round with 12 points, and five other girls scoring six or more, showing the depth of the group.
Along with the rebounding the biggest strength of the girls was their full court man defence, causing havoc for the South Americans in the backcourt.
Overall coach Head Coach Travis Heal was happy with his team’s second performance.
“Better than the first game, which is good. I think the girls got rid of more cobwebs and defensively we stepped it right up and kept the other team scoreless for two and a half quarters.”
The Bulleen girls face Europe, who are an all-star team made up from 17 countries across the continent, tomorrow morning at 5:30am AEST.
“We’re really excited, we’ve heard a lot about them, they’re really good and we’re excited to face them” said Emily Maltezos about their upcoming challenge.
Boys: Asia Pacific v India
After watching their fellow Asia Pacific team take out a commanding win over India, it was the Boys turn to take the court in their greatly anticipated first game and were able to close out with an 80-43 victory.
The Eltham Wildcat team started a little slower than their female counterparts in the same match-up, clearly controlling the play but struggling to translate it to the scoreboard.
“It was pretty good, we came out with a slow start but by the end we were able to get into a bit of a groove” said Eltham guard Anton Stratov.
Trading baskets to being the game, it took a six point run from Harrison Stones to break away from India, after which Asia Pacific’s lead didn’t drop below eight points.
“What India did well was pressure us a lot, we had a few turnovers possible because of the nerves of being the first game of the tournament. After we started to settle you could see the boys finding each other and found a lot of open shot.” Said Eltham Wildcats Head Coach Craig Stratford
“We had a bit of a size advantage today, which was good, but they definitely fought for every possession.”
Up 42-29 at the half the boys were playing well but lacked their trademark defensive pressure.
The second half they bought their A-game keeping the New Delhi based Indian side to 14 points in the second half and piling on another 38 themselves.
The Asia Pacific Boys were clinical in their attack of India’s 3-2 zone and countered with a half court press which caused a lot of turnovers.
Anton Stratov led the scoring with 15 points, Kristian Ferronato was also a key contributor piling in 13 of his own, along with nine boards for Eltham.
Four Eltham players scored double digits with nearly every active player managing to reach at least four, showing the depth of the squad which has always been their strength.
The final score 80-43, the powerful Wildcats handily dealt with a feisty Indian side that played with a lot of heart.
The Asia Pacific Boys will take on powerhouse international sides South America and Europe Thursday morning AEST.
Day Two Schedule:
Thurs 9 Aug (AEST)
1:45am: Asia Pacific v South America Boys
5:30am: Asia Pacific v Europe Girls
6:45am: Asia Pacific v Europe Boys