The Rollers set the tone early with relentless defensive pressure, restricting Malaysia from settling into the game. Malaysia had a developing team and the experienced Australians locked down the chairs around half court and didn’t allow them to get any quality offence.
Rollers were sharing the ball around early with some quick points to Shaun Norris, Bill Latham and Kim Robins, while keeping the opposition scoreless. Michael Auprince (10 points), Clarence McCarthy-Grogan (12 points) and Brett Stibners (11 points) dominated the second quarter and the back end of the first to all finish in double figures at the half.
During the second period Malaysia found the scoreboard putting a sold 16 points on the board. Matt McShane and Sammy White provided the grunt work for the Australians and created easy access to the keyway for the Rollers’ to finish with quality.
At half time the game was over with the Rollers leading 51-16 and qualification for Tokyo 2020 only 20 minutes away.
The Australians pushed out the lead in the third quarter, with solid teamwork and good decision making. Stibners and McCarthy-Grogan were doing the most damage on the scoreboard while Luke Pople, Matt McShane and Jay Dohnt were prominent defensively and facilitating on offence. Norris pushed his tally out to 10 points while Tom O’Neill-Thorne also made his impact on the scoreboard.
The final quarter was turned into more of a battle with Malaysia who were playing an upbeat and energised game. With this the Rollers’ efficiency disappeared. This late battle from Malaysia wasn’t enough and the Rollers prevailed with a 52-point win and qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
The Australian Rollers will face the strong side of Iran tonight at 9:30pm (AEDT) in the semi-final, you can watch via livestream on the IWBF YouTube channel..