Sam Froling hit a three-pointer with just 2.3 seconds remaining to give the Emus the victory over the previously undefeated Mali, seeing them finish in second place in Group B.
After beginning the game on a 12-0 run, Mali fought back towards the end of the first quarter to cut the Emus lead to 20-12, with Kody Stattmann leading the way with seven points.
“Mali didn’t get a great start but managed to use their length and pressure to keep chipping away at our lead” shared Emus coach Darren Perry.
During the second quarter the Emus began to force Mali into turnovers much like their game against Latvia. However, the Emus were struggling to look after the ball themselves as the turnovers began to mount for both sides.
Half-way through the second, the Emus had managed just two points for the quarter as Mali had cut the margin to just two. The Aussie bigs had their work cut out in dealing with the size and strength of the Mali frontcourt, led by Mali’s Oumar Ballo.
With both teams struggling to look after the ball in the first half, the Emus amassed 18 turnovers by half-time, while Mali had ten turnovers of their own. Despite the Emus struggles, they still took a 33-28 lead into the half-time break.
Coming out of the main break, Sean MacDonald caught fire, dropping eleven points in just four minutes to keep the Emus afloat with a seven-point lead.
With 3:28 to go in the third, MacDonald had accounted for 14 of Australia’s 16 points for the third period, before Tamuri Wigness and Tyler Robertson connected on threes of their own, as the Emus enjoyed a 27-21 third quarter to see them take a 60-49 lead into the last quarter.
As the last quarter begun, both teams traded buckets as the Emus held a lead of around six points for the first eight minutes of the final quarter.
However, Mali drew back within two points with just a couple of minutes remaining. With a minute to go, Mali converted on a fast break lay-up to draw the game even at 75 apiece before Sean MacDonald found Kody Stattmann with an alley-oop to put the Emus back up with 45 seconds on the clock.
On the very next possession, Oumar Ballo drew the foul and went 2-2 from the line to see both teams even at 77 apiece with 41 seconds on the clock. Moments later out of the timeout, Sean MacDonald was fouled on the go-ahead three-point attempt, as he went 2-3 at the line to give the Emus a two-point lead.
However, Mali continued to mount the challenge as they struck again, getting a tough lay-up attempt to fall as the game was all tied up at 79 apiece.
With just 15 seconds left on the clock, Sam Froling stepped up to the plate to hit a huge game-winning three-pointer courtesy of a perfectly placed Sean MacDonald dish.
The win for the Emus seeing them finish with a 2-1 record, good enough for second in Group B.
“It was a great contest, both teams had decisive runs in the second half. Sam’s three was huge to give us the lead and the win” shared Darren Perry after the win.
Sean MacDonald was outstanding throughout the contest, finishing with 25 points, five rebounds and five assists, while Sam Froling had nine points and nine rebounds.
The Emus will next face Lithuania in the Round of 16, with the time of the game yet to be announced.
The Australian Emus Schedule for the 2019 FIBA Under-19 World Cup (all times AEST):
June 29: Emus def. by Canada 76-81
June 30: Emus def. Latvia 81-52
July 3: Emus def. Mali 82-79
July 4: Round of 16 vs Lithuania. Time: TBC
July 6: Quarter-Finals
July 7: Semi-Finals
July 8: Medal Games