The Emerging Opals will battle for their second straight gold medal at the 2019 World University Games while the Emerging Boomers have advanced to the Semi-Finals after both teams enjoyed a successful night in Naples, Italy.
Australia and Portugal entered their Semi-Final clash with unbeaten records, both having won all four games leading up to the penultimate game.
Neither team was willing to give an inch in a hard-fought game but despite trailing at every break, the Emerging Opals led when it mattered most, claiming a 56-49 victory.
Entering the final term down by four points, the Emerging Opals had struggled to find their range from beyond the arc all game but three-pointers from Abbey Wehrung (five points, two assists) and Anneli Maley sparked an 11-2 run to give them the lead.
Portugal then found themselves in foul trouble midway through the quarter and while Australia’s lead was only three inside the last 90 seconds, Lauren Scherf (six points, 13 rebounds) came up clutch with six straight free-throws.
Keely Froling capped off a brilliant game with two late free-throws as well to secure the comeback win and set up a tilt at defending their 2017 World University Games gold medal.
The night did not start out well for Australia as it took them over three minutes to hit their first field goal.
Portugal were unable to inflict much damage on the scoreboard though and Keely Froling and Maley (seven points, five rebounds) then came off the bench to combine for eight points and make it a two-point game at quarter-time.
Ezi Magbegor (eight points, three assists) made her presence felt in the second term, setting up Jasmine Simmons for a three-point play and scoring a basket herself.
However, Portugal was able to sneak ahead by four at half-time after out-scoring the Emerging Opals by 15 from beyond the arc with Australia coming up empty on all four long-range attempts.
Frustrations were building from the Emerging Opals camp as Portugal moved out to a game-high seven-point lead in the third but Stephanie Reid (eight points, three steals) countered with a couple of nice cuts to the ring.
Keely Froling (18 points, three assists, two steals) then scored a quick five points, including draining the Emerging Opals’ first three of the game.
That gave them some momentum heading down the stretch while also keeping the margin at a manageable four points at the last change.
Find the stats here.
Australia will now meet the USA in the 2019 World University Games gold medal game at 4am AEST on Thursday morning.
That clash will be a replay of the 2017 Quarter-Final when the Emerging Opals prevailed on their way to the gold medal and will be available to watch via the Olympic Channel.
Taking on Argentina for a place in the Semi-Finals, the Emerging Boomers received the perfect start from Dejan Vasiljevic who drilled a three on the first possession of the game.
He had the hot hand through the opening minutes, scoring seven of Australia’s first nine points as they began the game with a 9-0 run.
Argentina was able to settle though, making it just a two-point game at quarter-time and Tanner Krebs (13 points, two steals) and Will Magnay then combined for ten points in the second term to maintain that margin at the main break.
It was still just a one-point game a couple of minutes into the third but the Emerging Boomers suddenly found a groove, going on a 14-4 run to move in front by double-digits.
Jack White (19 points, five steals) had four points during that run while Jonah Antonio and Alex Mudronja hit big three’s late in the quarter.
Despite the momentum going against them, Argentina had one last run and were able to trim the deficit to four at the midway point of the last term.
White’s hands were exceptional at the defensive end though and Magnay (nine points, 12 rebounds, four assists) came up with a huge block to halt Argentina’s run before Vasiljevic (18 points) knocked down another important three-pointer on the ensuing possession.
He went on to score seven of Australia’s last nine points, ending the game the way he started, to book Australia’s place in the Semi-Final with a 73-64 victory.
Find the stats here.
The Emerging Boomers now prepare for a match-up against Ukraine in Wednesday morning’s Semi-Final at 4am AEST with the game broadcast live on the Olympic Channel.
The Emerging Opals and Emerging Boomers Schedule for the 2019 World Uni Games (all times AEST):
July 3: Emerging Opals def. Finland 68-51
July 5: Emerging Opals def. Canada 85-51
July 5: Emerging Boomers def. by Israel 64-92
July 5: Emerging Opals def. China 90-84
July 5: Emerging Boomers def. Mexico 105-62
July 7: Emerging Boomers def. Czech Republic 88-59
July 8: Quarter-Final- Emerging Opals def. Chinese Taipei 81-72
July 9: Quarter-Final- Emerging Boomers def. Argentina 73-64
July 9: Semi-Final- Emerging Opals def. by Portugal 56-49
July 10: Semi-Final- Emerging Boomers vs. Ukraine at 4am
July 11: Gold Medal Game- Emerging Opals vs. USA at 4am
July 12: Emerging Boomers’ medal game at 1.30am and 4am