A stirring second half from the Australian Spinners has seen them advance to the Semi-Finals with a 69-66 victory against Germany at the Under-23 World Championships.
Germany entered the clash with a 4-1 record compared to Australia’s 3-2 record and the Germans were on song from the opening tip, combining some solid defence with inside looks to grab a 7-0 lead.
Anderson Parker was subbed in to give the Spinners a lift and scored two quick baskets, sparking Australia to a 6-0 answering run and by quarter-time, they trailed by only five points.
Having starred off the bench all tournament, Jake Fulwood (nine points, eight rebounds, three assists) was interrupted by a broken axle and missed some important minutes during the first half but Lachlin Dalton was injected into the game and with a more mobile unit, coach Luke Brennan saw the line-up pay off on the scoreboard immediately.
Dalton hit three lay-ups to close the margin to one but Germany regained their composure with some tight defence heading into half-time, pushing the lead back out to 11 at the main break.
Entering the third term, Brennan again switched around his line-up and with some more physical and aggressive defence from the likes of Bailey Rowland, Jeremy Tyndall and Nick Scott, the Spinners dragged themselves right back into the contest.
Steven Elliott (nine points) also took Germany’s main offensive threat in a full court press and wore him down with chair contact pressure before Tom O’Neill-Thorne found his range at the other end.
Knocking in a couple of big three-pointers, he helped claim a 24-12 third term for Australia as they owned the lead for the first time in the game.
O’Neill-Thorne then brought his team mates into the contest with four assists in the final quarter and while the Germans threw their own line-ups around to try and halt the momentum, Australia would not be wavered.
Marcel Gerber pulled the deficit back to one point twice in the final minute but O’Neill-Thorne (29 points, seven rebounds, six assists, three steals) was clutch from the free-throw line in the dying seconds to secure a famous victory for the Spinners.
Shooting 60% as a team, Australia’s advantage once again proved to be their depth as they won the bench battle, 25-11.
The box score can be found here and don’t forget you can watch the Spinners games live via the IWBF’s website here.
The Aussies now face Turkey in a re-match of their group stage game for the Semi-Final at 10am AEST Friday while Great Britain will take on Japan in the other Semi-Final.
Tomorrow morning’s two victors will then play off for the gold medal at 2am AEST early Saturday while the bronze medal game will be competed two hours previous at midnight.