It has been an outstanding year for the Goannas basketball team as they cemented their position as number one in the Asia Pacific Region after great back-to-back results at the World Deaf Basketball Championships in July and Asia Pacific Deaf Games this month.
Coming into the Games, the Goannas were placed ninth after the World Deaf Basketball Championships but took care of Iran, India, China in the pool games before defeating Japan in the Semi-Final and host nation Chinese Taipei in the gold medal match.
Led by coach Brent Reid, three Australians scored in double-figures in that gold medal match, led by Samuel Cartledge’s 14 points. Shane Crick (10 points) and Lachlan Jackson (10 points) also starred while Mark Bilyj and Jordan Woolmer helped the Goannas to the 59-36 victory over Chinese Taipei.
The team created Australian deaf basketball history by winning the sport’s first gold through defensive domination. They never allowed more than 50 points a game while outscoring each opponent by an average of 17 points.
The gold medal also represents the first team sport gold medal in Australia deaf sporting history.
The recent win has secured the team’s place at the 2017 Deaflympic Games, where the Goannas hope to greatly improve on their 2013 ninth placing.
“After all the hard work that this relatively young team has put in, it’s a wonderful result, and shows it was worth every effort,” said Bilyj, captain of the Goannas.
It’s been great to have the opportunity to coach the Goannas,” added Reid. “Their dedication, hard work and commitment is always outstanding and resulted in them achieving what they set out to at the beginning of the year.
“The team receives very little government funding and no sponsorship. So to see how they have pulled together even when it looked like some of the players would not be able to compete, it is a fantastic result.”
The Goannas have won their past nine games against international opponents. With the 2017 Deaflympic Games in Turkey, the team have their eyes set on continuing their winning ways and making program history.
The Goannas are presently looking for sponsorship and donations – please contact Deaf Basketball Australia’s Sponsorship & Fundraising Officer, Steve Williams on 0419 660 412.