It was a challenging FIBA World Cup opener for the Gems at the Thai-Japanese Stadium in Bangkok. The USA’s size and athleticism proved too much for Australia to overcome as the Gems fell 79-56.
Written by Oliver Kay.
Things were tough for the Gems in the opening stages of the first quarter. The USA came out swinging, and Australia struggled to deal with their physicality and fullcourt pressure. Some costly turnovers in the opening minutes put Australia on the back foot early.
The USA looked to feed their bigs in the paint from the outset. Australia’s defence did well in the early stages to repel them, but the USA kept pounding the ball inside which gave them the early ascendency.
Jazmin Shelley and Lily Scanlon kept the Gems within striking distance, with 6 points and 4 points respectively. On the back of their aggressive penetrating drives to the basket, Australia went into the first quarter break only down 14-19.
In the second quarter, the Gems were able to get to the free-throw with greater regularity but struggled to capitalise on their opportunities, converting only 9 of their 18 attempts. This lack of accuracy would continuously hand the momentum back to the USA.
Although they struggled at the free-throw line the Gems were able to find their range from three. Some timely three-point shooting from Scanlon, Shelley and Isobel Anstey ensured the Gems stayed in contact with the USA going into the second half, only trailing 39-35.
After a closely contested first half it was all USA in the third quarter. The USA went came out firing, going on a 10-0 run that was finally ended by a Fowler jump shot four minutes into the period. However, it wasn’t enough to stop the onslaught.
The USA continued to pile on the points, outscoring the Gems 20-4 and going into the final quarter with a 21 point lead.
The Gems came out in the fourth quarter with much more composure and put together a much more competitive 10 minute period of basketball. Shyla Heal’s aggressive drives to the basket kept the USA’s defence off balance. Heal scored all 4 of her points in the last 5 minutes of the game.
Although the USA extended their lead further, the Gems kept up the pace scoring 17 points to the USA’s 19.
At full-time it was Lily Scanlon who led the way for Australia, scoring a game-high 12 points, with 6 points coming from behind the three-point line.
Alexandra Fowler did her best against the USA’s bigs, securing a game-high 10 rebounds.
The Gems will next face Hungary at 3:15 pm AEST tomorrow.
See the full box score here.
The Australian Gems Schedule for the 2019 FIBA Under-19 World Cup (all times AEST):
July 20: Gems def by. USA 79-56.
July 21: Gems vs. Hungary at 3:15pm
July 23: Gems vs. Korea at 3pm
July 24: Round of 16
July 26: Quarter-Finals
July 27: Semi-Finals
July 28: Medal Games