The Australian Under-23 Spinners have won the AOZ Qualifying bronze medal with a 73-49 defeat of Thailand, earning a spot in the U23 World Championships later this year.
Needing a victory in the final game of the tournament, Australia started slowly as they surrendered the first eight points of the contest but some determined defence and free-throws from Tom O’Neill-Thorne saw the Spinners take a one-point lead into quarter-time.
Their press then saw Thailand struggle to get shots off and as they had done all tournament, Australia utilised their extensive line-up to keep the pressure on the home side.
A 24-0 advantage in bench points overall told the story and helped the Spinners own a seven-point lead at half-time before the outside shooting of Jontee Brown (21 points, ten rebounds) blew the game open.
Brown scored 13 points in the third quarter, out-scoring Thailand by himself and from there, Australia cruised to victory and into the World Championships this June.
Captain O’Neill-Thorne paced the Spinners with 22 points, nine rebounds and six assists and his exceptional performance right through the tournament earned him a place in the All-Star five.
Jake Fulwood also impressed with 16 points and seven boards while Steven Elliott combined two points with seven rebounds and five assists.
Australia will now return home to prepare for the World Championships in Toronto with the Kevin Coombs Cup (held in April) providing an opportunity to hone their skills as they aim to to emulate (and better) their bronze-medal winning performances at the World Champs in 1997, 2005 and 2013.
- Iran- qualified
- Japan- qualified
- Australia- qualified