The Australian Rollers have won gold at the AOZ Championships defeating Korea by 17 points.
GOLD MEDAL MATCH – AUS v KOR
The first quarter saw the Rollers set the tempo for the game, producing strong defence and restricting Korea. Shaun Norris was once again at his best, with an impressive mid-range game. Bill Latham and Tom O’Neill-Thorne were also supporting Norris and helped the Rollers to an early control over Korea. The Australians lead by 15 points at the first break and didn’t look like they were slowing down.
Head Coach Craig Friday started to swing changes within the squad for the second quarter. These changes left Korea with a chance to lift their efforts. Brett Stibners (4 assists) and Matt McShane (6 points) provided a small window of positive output to keep the scoreboard slowly ticking over. The Rollers still managed to take the quarter, leading by 18 at the main break.
The Rollers men took the third quarter 16-10 with a slower tempo and the Australian defence still locking down chairs. O’Neill-Thorne was getting creative on the offensive end and Latham was supporting him. Jannik Blair was providing some toughness with Norris continuing his good form and aggressiveness.
At three quarter time the Australians lead 49-25 and were looking strong to take out the gold medal. With seven minutes of play left, Latham provided a massive presence to nullify the Korean big target.
Despite Korea’s late drive, the final quarter win wasn’t enough for gold and the Australian Rollers secured their gold medal win at 62 -45. Norris was the MVP collecting 26 points and was well supported by Tom O’Neill-Thorne with 10 points, Bill Latham with nine points and Matt McShane with six points.
Norris and Latham were named in the All Star 5 after both having impressive tournaments averaging 15.9 points and 10.9 points respectively.
Captain Shaun Norris said he was ultimately happy to qualify for the Tokyo.
“We started well, and we sat down after the Japan loss and we knew we needed to improve coming up against Iran, which we were ready to play with a 50 point turnaround from a couple of months ago.
“It was nice to keep the success in the AOZ tournament going but now we look ahead to how we can keep improving as a group for Tokyo.”