Aussie Gems book spot in 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup
2 November 2018
BASKETBALL: The Australian Gems have bounced back from a surprising loss at the FIBA Under-18 Asian Championships, defeating New Zealand 82-66 in the Semi-Final qualifier to officially book their place at the 2019 FIBA Under-19 World Cup.
The Gems were forced to do it the tough way after dropping their final group stage game to Korea, playing New Zealand in the Semi-Final qualifier.
However, Australia were in control from the opening tip and the win now assures them a place in next year's World Cup, a tournament they have competed in every year since its inception in 1985, while also advancing them to the Under-18 Asian Championship Semi-Finals against Japan.
The Gems brought the intensity early against New Zealand, showing a marked turnaround from their previous game.
The Kiwi's were physical in response but soon found themselves in foul trouble and that helped Australia start the game with a 7-0 run.
New Zealand were finally able to get on the board courtesy of a couple of offensive rebounds but Isobel Anstey (13 points, 12 rebounds) and Ashlee Hannan (ten points, two steals, two blocks off the bench) gave the Gems a spark and an eight-point edge at the first break.
The pressure increased in the second period but everytime New Zealand looked like they were making inroads, Isabel Palmer and Jaz Shelley (11 points, six assists) were able to respond with a basket or Agnes Emma-Nnopu (two points, two steals, one block) came up with a defensive stop.
Miela Goodchild then scored six straight herself and Ula Motuga connected on the half-time buzzer as the Gems went on an 11-0 run into the main break while holding NZ scoreless for three and a half minutes.
They kept that momentum going into the third term and all of a sudden, Australia were in complete control on the back of a 19-1 run across both quarters.
Motuga (eight points, four steals) was sensational defensively, continually cutting off New Zealand's long passes as the deficit began to make them panic.
Palmer (13 points, two steals) piled on the points as well, joining Goodchild (13 points) in double-digits to give the Gems a healthy buffer at three-quarter time.
New Zealand made one last charge in the final stanza, beginning the fourth with a 10-4 run and they closed within 11 points thanks to a couple of big three-pointers.
Time was against them though and Sam Simons (ten points, four assists, four steals) shut the door with a three-pointer of her own to cap the victory.
The Gems will now meet Japan in the Under-18 Asian Championship Semi-Final on Friday night with tip-off time to be announced by FIBA.
All games for the tournament will be live-streamed on the Basketball Australia Facebook page.
The Australian Gems Schedule for the 2018 FIBA Under-18 Asian Championships (all times AEDT):
October 28: Australia def. Indonesia (96-28)
October 29: Australia def. Chinese Taipei (106-66)
October 30: Australia def. by Korea (62-63)
November 1: Semi-Final Qualifier: Australia def. New Zealand (82-66)
November 2: Semi-Final vs. Japan (Time TBC)
November 3: Medal Games