On the opening day of the FIBA 3×3 World Cup, Australia have split their two games with a victory over China following a loss to Ukraine.
Held in Nantes, France, Australia sent a WNBL-calibre roster to the tournament with Amelia Todhunter, Rebecca Cole, Nadeen Payne and Carley Mijovic representing the country.
In the fast-paced style of 3×3, games are played for ten minutes or until the first team hits 21 with regular two-pointers counting for just one and shots from beyond the arc counting for two.
Australia v Ukraine
The Aussies went with a line-up of Todhunter, Cole and Mijovic (the tallest player in the women’s competition) to start their first contest against last year’s silver medallists.
It took a minute for the teams to figure each other out but Cole was able to fly to the rim for a lay-up to get Australia on the scoreboard first.
Ukraine answered with a bomb from beyond the arc but Cole hit a reverse lay-up as her first quick step proved difficult for the Ukrainians to cover.
Australia’s hustle on the boards kept the margin close and Cole was able to knock down a deep two-pointer as she provided most of the early offence but Ukraine began to get their two-point game going as well.
Back-to-back long-range shots gave Ukraine a 15-9 edge and while Australia continued to fight for loose balls and utilise their height advantage through Mijovic and Payne, Ukraine’s hot shooting proved to be the Aussies undoing.
Clinching the game from the free-throw line, they capped off a 21-12 victory to prove they are once again one of the teams to beat this year.
Australia v China
Just a couple of hours later, Australia were back on court for their second game of the day against China who were playing their first match of the tournament and Mijovic set the tone with a huge rejection under the rim on China’s first possession.
Cole then found her following after an offensive rebound for an easy score and Mijovic capped off an impressive minute with a two-pointer to give the Aussies the momentum.
Australia’s defensive intensity caused havoc for China with Todhunter picking her opponent’s pocket and then blocking her on a lay-up attempt but that aggressiveness did allow their opposition to convert a couple of shots from the free-throw line.
Cole responded with a two-pointer though before Payne established herself in the key with three quick baskets to open up a healthy 10-3 advantage.
Mijovic then caught fire to officially put the game to bed, hardly moving from her spot on two consecutive possessions as she drilled back-to-back two-pointers.
With 1:50 remaining, Cole finished off the contest from the free-throw line as Australia prevailed 21-7 in a strong performance heading into their next games on Day 3.
Catch up on both contests from Day 1 of the FIBA 3×3 World Cup below. You can watch Australia v Ukraine at 3:50:35 while the Australia v China game be found at the 5:24:50 time stamp.
Sitting third in Pool C with only two teams advancing to the Quarter-Finals, Australia will need to have a successful day when they take on Japan and the Netherlands early Tuesday morning AEST in their final two pool stage contests.
The Australian 3×3 Open Women’s World Championship Schedule (all times AEST):
June 20: Australia vs. Japan at 2.00am
June 20: Australia vs. Netherlands at 4.50am
June 21-22: Quarter Finals (10.50pm)- Gold Medal Game (5.00am)