The Rollers began their tournament with a hard-fought four-point victory over South Africa. With the two teams trading baskets throughout the first half, a couple of poor decisions and a lack of safety enabled South African to go into the half-time break with a four-point lead.
The Rollers came out strong in the third period to open up a double-digit lead before a combination change from South Africa saw them cut the margin back to single digits late in the third.
Poor offensive execution and again lack of safety allowed South Africa to come all the way back to tie the game up and send it to overtime, where the Rollers would eventually prevail by four-points to start the tournament off with a win.
With the Rollers’ next challenge against the host nation, the UAE, the Australians came out looking a lot more switched on in their second game of the tournament.
The Rollers set the tone early on with some rock-solid extended defence, creating numerous scoring chances to see the Rollers take an 11-point lead at the end of the first.
From there, the Rollers continued to extend their lead, leading by 29 at half-time and 46 at three-quarter time, with the final score reading 81-32 in the Rollers favour. Shawn Russell led the Rollers in scoring with 15, while Lachlin Synot (12 pts), Andrew Dewberry (10 pts), and Steve Elliot (10 pts) were all instrumental.
With the Rollers holding a 2-0 record to start the tournament, the team then faced Thailand in what was set to be a test for the team.
The Australians started the game strongly, matching the intensity of the Thai team, trading buckets throughout the first period.
However, in the second period the Rollers lacked presence on the defensive end as the Thailand team pushed out the Rollers, creating some easy baskets to see them take a 46-28 lead over the Rollers into the half-time break.
The Rollers needed a response coming into the third, and they responded, making an impact on the scoreboard in the first two minutes to get the margin back to twelve, forcing Thailand to call a time-out.
The time-out proved to be a catalyst for Thailand however, as they came out re-envigorated with the Rollers struggling to respond, as they fell away to trail 66-38 at the end of the third.
With the game just about out of reach, some of the younger members of the squad took to the court in the last period, performing admirably to win the last quarter by ten points, with the final scoreline reading 74-56. Andrew Dewberry led the way with 12 points for coach Craig Friday’s team.
The Rollers would then move on to the crossover game, as they faced an experienced Korean side. The Emerging Rollers side came out playing with high intensity, with the volume loud and the impact of chairs making an impact on the game. However, the Rollers struggled to convert on the offensive end. The Australians created opportunities but lacked poise, as Korea began to separate on the scoreboard.
The Koreans eventually ran out 68-40 winners, but coach Craig Friday was relatively pleased with Rollers performance.
“This was our best game for the week so far. Yes, we broke down at times, but we broke down having a crack and putting our number on the line” shared Friday.
“Korea had separated from us, but we were working hard for every possession. This was something we had focused on”.
The loss meant that the Rollers would then face Germany in the third vs. fourth playoff game. Unfortunately, the Rollers got out to a poor start in the first quarter, trailing 20-2 at the end of one.
The second quarter saw the Rollers play more disciplined defence as they managed to find a few baskets to trim the margin to 14 at the half.
Coming out of the half-time break, the Rollers continued to correct their mistakes from the first quarter as they came all the way back to close within one point. However, Germany managed to hit an important three-pointer to extend the margin to four at three-quarter time.
The buzzer-beating three gave the Germans momentum heading into the last, and with a couple of quick baskets to start the fourth quarter, Germany managed to stretch the margin back out to ten points. The final scores reading in Germany’s favour, 52-38. Once again Andrew Dewberry was impressive with 14 points, but the loss left coach Craig Friday with much to ponder.
“It was a disappointing finish to a week in which I thought we managed to improve each session. However, the tournament offered us a great insight into some new players on the international stage.”