Written by Liam Ellison.
The Emus faced their toughest task yet in the Japanese with their quick, athletic style and outside shooting. The Australian’s had to come out switched on but When Keijiro Mitani hit a three the Japanese had an early 7-4 lead. Kody Stattmann responded moments later for the Emus with a three of his own to bring the scores back to level.
The Emus looked to have a size advantage on the inside but it was their outside shooting that helped them out to an early lead as a deep three from Tamuri Wigness and a mid-range jumpshot from Callum Dalton pushed the Australian’s out to an 18-11 lead.
Kyle Bowen had a hard fall, hitting his head after securing a tough rebound. After Bowen left the floor, Stattmann hit another three for the Emus to extend the lead out to 23-13 at the end of the first period.
Samson Froling started the second period with a bang as he followed up an emphatic block on one end with an and-one layup on the other. However the speed of the Japanese kept the Emus honest as Yuki Kawamura raced past two Emus defenders for a lightning quick fast break layup.
Kyle Bowen made a return to the floor in the second quarter as he converted on a put-back lay-in as the Emus took advantage of their size to secure yet another offensive rebound.
Keisei Tominaga began to catch fire for Japan as he connected on back-to-back pull up jumpers to bring the score to 34-25 in the Emus favour. The Japanese guard was fresh off of a 28 point performance against Lebanon and was showing no signs of letting up as he caused Darren Perry some concerns with his ball handling and lightning quick first step.
However the Emus size on the interior began to show as the Australians dominated with points in the paint while also securing 11 offensive rebounds in the first half alone. Kyle Bowen closed the half with a bucket to give the Emus a 42-27 lead as Bowen led the way with 10 points and 6 rebounds.
The Emus and the Japanese began the second half in a deadlock as nearly five minutes into the quarter the two teams had scored just seven points apiece. It took a great play from Tamuri Wigness to reignite the Australian offence when a perfectly placed pass set up Samson Froling for the easy lay-in.
Froling then began to dominate the contest as he picked up his second block of the game before converting on two more inside looks to bring the margin out to 18. The lead extended moments later as Aiden Krause scored a quick five points which was capitalised by a three, to put the Emus up by 23. At the end of the third period the Emus held a commanding 63-41 lead.
Keisei Tominaga opened the quarter with back-to-back threes for Japan to bring the deficit back to 17 and give the Japanese a glimmer of hope. However the Japanese guard began to fall in love with the three ball, as he missed on his next three attempts from downtown while the Emus went on a 7-0 run to put the game back out of reach.
Kyle Bowen continued to cause trouble for the Japanese on the interior as the Emus kept the scoreboard ticking over, with the lead growing steadily.
Keli Leaupepe continued his strong work on the glass as two consecutive offensive rebounds resulted in four points for the Emus, taking the lead out to 30 for Australia.
Remarkably the Emus were able to keep the Japanese scoreless for the last 5:30 minutes, eventually running out winners 88-52.
— FIBA (@FIBA) August 9, 2018
Kyle Bowen led the way for the Australians with 22 points and 13 rebounds while Samson Froling also had a double-double with 12 points and 11 boards. The Emus had 10 players hit the scoreboard as they shot a highly efficient 57.4% from the field. For Japan, Keisei Tominaga topped their scoring with 16 points.
Darren Perry’s team once again used their rebounding prowess to create an advantage, winning that battle 58-31. However the Australian’s struggled to take care of the ball, as they turned the ball over 18 times. The Emus advantage on the interior was too great though, as they scored a whopping 64 points in the paint to Japan’s 16.
The win means the Emus have qualified for the FIBA Under-19 World Championships, as the top four teams from Asia qualify for the tournament. Next the Australians will face the Philippines for a spot in the gold medal game.
The Australian Emus Schedule for the 2018 FIBA Under-18 Asian Championship (all times AEST):
August 5: Emus vs Thailand W 119-44
August 6: Emus vs Bahrain W 107-42
August 7: Emus vs New Zealand W 111-62
August 9: Emus vs Japan W 88-52
August 10: Semi-Final vs Philippines
August 11: Bronze and Gold medal games