The Australian Under-23 Spinners have capped off the group stage of the AOZ Qualifiers with a 68-28 defeat of China to secure third place ahead of today’s Semi-Finals.
The victory means the Spinners will face Iran tonight at 7.30pm AEDT with the winner of that game advancing to the gold medal clash as well as earning qualification for the Under-23 World Championships in Canada this June.
Australia did fall to Iran by four points only a few days ago and while another loss tonight will keep their World Champs hopes alive, it will make the bronze medal game on Saturday a must-win.
Against China, Brian Carminati carried his form over from the victory against Thailand with ten points in the first term to equal the opposition’s total and help the Aussies to a nine-point advantage by the first break.
Coach Luke Brennan continued to use his bench extensively and as they increased the lead, the Spinners’ starters were able to take advantage of some well-earned rest.
Tom O’Neill-Thorne again paced Australia with a double-double of 18 points, 12 rebounds and six assists while Carminati (15 points, 13 rebounds) and Jake Fulwood (15 points, eight boards) starred in the paint to give their team a 17-0 edge in second chance points.
Jontee Brown (eight points, seven rebounds) and Thomas McHugh (six and seven) also chimed in as a noticeably tired Chinese side failed to score in the final period.
The final group standings:
Japan– 3 wins (total margin of +100)
Iran– 2 wins (+107)
Australia– 2 wins (+74)
China– 1 win (-40)
Thailand– 1 win (-5)
India– 0 wins (-236)
The Under-23 AOZ Qualifiers Schedule (all times AEDT):
Friday, January 27: China vs. India at 3.30pm
Friday, January 27: Japan vs. Thailand at 5.30pm
Friday, January 27: Iran vs. Australia at 7.30pm
Saturday, January 28: Bronze medal game at 4pm
Saturday, January 28: Gold medal game at 6.30pm
Keep an eye on the Basketball Australia Twitter for updates throughout their games.