The Australian Gliders have achieved a silver medal at the AOZ Championships and having defeated Japan in the semi-final have officially qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
GOLD MEDAL MATCH – AUS v CHI
The Gliders faced China and it was a battle from the very first quarter, with China showing their speed and chair skills, causing the Australians to struggle in offence. Despite finding some opportunities inside through Annabelle Lindsay and Teisha Shadwell, the Gliders were unable to convert, and the first quarter went to China 16-5.
The second quarter was very similar with the Chinese providing full court pressure. Scoring was tough to come by with several last-minute shot clock attempts. Amber Merritt found opportunities and converted but the Gliders were shooting at a low percentage (20% at the half) with the pressure from China affecting the Australians. China lead by 21 at the half time break with an increase in intensity needed from the Gliders in the second half.
The Gliders were primed for a fight and came out after the half time break ready to dig deep for an opportunity at gold. Shadwell and Lindsay started the push with the mid-point brigade of Georgia Inglis and Shelley Cronau providing a lift in transition offence. The low point squadron of Hannah Dodd, Ella Sabljak, Mary Friday and Sarah Vinci started to lock in chairs and apply some pressure, with Mary Friday providing a classy finish at the basket.
Despite winning the third quarter the Australians were still trailing by 20 points at three quarter time. They ramped up their effort further in the fourth quarter, providing no avenue for China to hit the scoreboard. Shadwell was playing an impressive role for a 16-year-old and was the Gliders’ leading scorer with 12 points on 50% shooting whilst also demonstrating her strength in rebounding.
The Australians were unable to hold China for the full quarter and they secured their gold medal win at 53 – 31, with the Gliders receiving silver after an extremely successful week where they secured a spot at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
Amber Merritt was named in the All Star 5 after an incredibly impressive tournament in which she averaged 13.3 points and 7.7 rebounds.
Head Coach Stephen Charlton said that the Gliders proved that they could compete on an international level.
“Our progress and development has been great,” Charlton said.
“The takeaway from this game was that we lost the second half by only one point and this was the only second half we have lost all week.
“It has been extremely pleasing to know that we have provided opportunities to some very young kids like Teisha Shadwell, who have shown the toughness they have.”