The Australian Crocs have overcome a slow start against Mali in the Round of 16 to prevail 74-65 and set up a Quarter-Final clash against Canada at the 2018 FIBA Under-17 World Cup.
Having finished the group stage in second spot, the Crocs faced Mali who had gone through their pool stage with a 1-2 record but they got the jump on the Aussies to take a four-point lead into quarter-time.
Australia settled in the second term and their defence, which had been exemplary throughout the tournament, brought them back into the contest as they held Mali to just 11 points in the second period while Luke Jackson scored 11 points himself and Luke Travers and Joel Capetola had two assists each.
Mali were not going to go away, trimming the margin to just a point heading into the fourth quarter but Australia, having experienced three games of two-point margins already at the FIBA Under-17 World Cup, did not panic.
Kobe Williamson (13 points on 3-3 three-point shooting) and Capetola (five points, four rebounds, three assists) knocked down important three-pointers and Jackson (15 points, 14 rebounds) continued to influence the offensive glass with six o-boards to gift the Crocs second chance opportunities.
That kept the Aussies’ noses in front by three points inside the final minute and Tamuri Wigness (13 points, five steals) then drilled a big three before Travers (15 points, five assists) clinched the contest with a lay-up and Williamson added to the 8-2 run to finish the game with late free-throws.
Find the box score here and watch the full replay against Mali below.
For the first time in the tournament, Australia were matched in rebounds by their opponents but Jackson continues to be a beast while he was aided by the likes of Wigness and Williamson in pulling down crucial offensive boards.
The Crocs also balanced 20 turnovers with 17 assists while 12 steals gave them 19 points off turnovers- two areas that they must replicate when they face Canada, who are undefeated, early Saturday morning Australian time.
Stay tuned to Basketball Australia’s social media channels for game-time information ahead of the Quarter-Finals and don’t forget, you can watch every game of the Crocs’ Under-17 World Cup campaign via Basketball Australia’s Facebook page or on FIBA’s YouTube channel here.
The Australian Crocs Schedule for the 2018 FIBA Under-17 World Cup (all times AEST):
July 7: Australia vs. Canada in the Quarter-Finals
July 8: Semi-Finals
July 9: Medal Games