Australia has closed out the group phase of the FIBA Under-17 Oceania Championships with wins against New Zealand in New Caledonia. Both teams finished on top of Group A in their respective divisions and will play their semi-final games on Friday.
Written by Oliver Kay.
Australia was met by an energised New Zealand team who quickly took an early lead, making Australia play from behind for the first time in the tournament. New Zealand’s relentless activity on the glass was tough for Australia to overcome.
Australia turned things up a notch of defence. New Zealand was barely able to get the ball past half-court in the last five minutes of the first quarter. Josh Giddey had a huge ten point quarter and Australia was able to pull ahead, ending the period leading 27-13.
Australia began the second quarter with the same defensive intensity. Biwali Bayles opened proceedings with a huge chase-down block on Alexander Mcnaught. Rebounding remained an issue for Australia, but their defence kept shining. Tamuri Wigness’ relentless full-court defence was a big factor.
With a 45-28 lead heading into the second half the boys in yellow turned it up a notch. Giddey continued his stellar play, and despite a New Zealand fight-back in the fourth, led his team to an 86-63 win. Giddey finished the game with 26 points, five rebounds, seven assists and three steals.
Full box score here.
The Australian girls were physically tested by a passionate New Zealand team. Things looked to be going Australia’s way early, as they jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead thanks to Gemma Potter. New Zealand quickly responded with some fierce interior defence.
Australia was able to withstand the storm thanks to their dominance of the offensive glass but often struggled to convert on their extra opportunities.
The second quarter began with Australia leading by six points, and that margin remained nearly unmoved for the first five minutes of the period and both teams went back and forth. Australia was finally able to break free of New Zealand’s grasp and ended the half leading 43-30.
New Zealand through their biggest offensive counterpunch of the game at the start of the half, going on a 9-2 run and had the better of Australia for the entire third quarter. They managed to shave Australia’s lead to ten points.
However, it was not to be for New Zealand as Australia locked in at both ends, running away to a 79-53 victory. Gemma Potter finished with 13 points despite a bad shooting performance (18.75 per cent). Millie Prior also logged 13 points as well as 11 rebounds.
Full box score here.
The Friday semi-finals are scheduled for 12:00 pm (girls) and 2:00 pm (boys). All times are AEST.