The Australian Rollers have had a positive start on their road to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, with back-to-back wins against Korea and Thailand at the 2019 Asia Oceania Championships.
GAME 1 – AUS V KOR
The Rollers started off slow in the first quarter, with Korea taking an early 6 – 2 lead, but the Australian’s were able to fight forward and had a 12-point lead at the first break.
Shaun Norris, Tom O’Neill-Thorne and Bill Latham were the early standouts, starting off strong offensively.
The second quarter saw Head Coach Craig Friday change the line-ups and rotations, proving to be a battle for the Rollers, with Korea taking the quarter. Despite this difficult quarter, with the help of some exciting energy from rookie Clarence McCarthy, the Australians kept the lead by 11 points at half time.
The third term saw the game get physical with some big hits from both teams. The Rollers extended their lead to 12 points at three-quarter time, setting it up for an interesting fourth quarter.
The final quarter was a tough one, but the Rollers were able to stay strong and keep their lead, securing their win at 58 – 46. Australian Bill Latham proved to be the difference with his impressive mid-range game collecting 20 points and five rebounds.
Head Coach Craig Friday said it was good to get everyone through the game.
“We were a bit rusty, but it was good to get a solid hit-out, definitely a good start to our campaign,” Friday said.
GAME 2 – AUS V THA:
The Rollers got off to a strong start and looked to control the game early against a feisty and quick Thailand team.
Shaun Norris kicked off the scoring for the Australians, with his aggressiveness and effectiveness helping Australia to a 19-9 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Bill Latham was once again an influential presence inside, with Kim Robins’ strong form also popping up to cause the Thailand team some concern.
During the second quarter, the Rollers started to lose their defensive pressure, with Head Coach Craig Friday making some deep rotations.
Clarence McCarthy-Grogan and Brett Stibners provided the team with lift in offense and despite some unforced errors, the Australians kept their lead at half time, 18 points ahead of the home side.
Thailand continued to push and play hard in the third quarter, but with the likes of Kim Robins and Shaun Norris dominating the Rollers’ offence, the Australians were able to head into the last quarter with a 24-point lead.
The final quarter saw all the Rollers secure solid court time, however this dropped the Australian’s intensity and allowed Thailand to win the quarter.
The late fight back from the home side wasn’t enough and the Rollers were able to secure their second win in two days, finalising the scores at 71-48.