GAME 3 – AUS v JAP
The Australian Gliders have made a strong comeback to defeat Japan 58-55 in their third game at the AOZ Championships.
Japan came out in the first quarter ready to bounce back having lost to the Australians in the first game of the tournament. Amber Merritt and Annabelle Lindsay had set the pace on the scoreboard with Ella Sabljak and Sarah Vinci both fulfilling their roles and providing pick and roll opportunities. The Gliders were able to keep with the high energy of the Japan side and were leading by one-point at quarter time.
The beginning of the second quarter was a struggle for both teams in terms of scoreboard impact, with it becoming a battle between strong defence. The Gliders were struggling to identify scoring targets and with an impressive performance from Chihiro Katada collecting 17 points, Japan were able to break away to a six-point lead at half time.
The Gliders found some much needed energy in the third quarter, bouncing back and producing solid defence. Lindsay started to find some shooting form and was supported by Merritt in offence. The Australians lead by one-point at three quarter time and set it up for a tight final term.
The fourth quarter was a battle with Japan, who extended their defence to add pressure to the Gliders. With just two minutes left of play Merritt registered a basket from the baseline pushing the Australian’s lead to four points. A quick reply from Japan put it back to within two points with only seconds left of play. Further shots from Merritt and Lindsay put the Australian’s at a six-point lead, making Japan’s last three-point shot not enough and the Gliders securing their win at 58 – 55.
Merritt and Lindsay were the standouts from the game collecting 19 and 25 points respectively.
Head Coach Stephen Charlton said he was really pleased with how the team were playing.
“We’re really happy for the team that they’re seeing results from their work,” Charlton said.
“The last three games we’ve shown a resolve and purpose that has been exceptional, and the girls are really trusting each other, so we’re seeing the result of that in the unselfish manner they’re playing.
“With one game left in the pool stage against China, we’re still a chance to finish on top of the pool, which would be a great reward for the players efforts this week.”