Basketballers keep on winning
18 August 2013
BASKETBALL: Australia's men's and women's basketball teams have continued their Oceania Championships campaigns undefeated.
THE Australian Opals have locked in their place at the FIBA women’s world championships next year with a 2-0 sweep of New Zealand in the FIBA Oceania championship for women.
The Opals followed up their game 1 victory in Auckland with an 84-66 win over the Tall Ferns in front of a boisterous crowd at the AIS Arena in Canberra on Sunday.
After Lauren Jackson did all the damage in game 1, it was fellow London Olympian Belinda Snell who rose to the occasion in Canberra shooting five three-pointers in her 17 points, which all came in the first three terms when the game was there to be won.
Jackson didn’t disappoint fans in his adopted home either with 21 points and seven rebounds.
WNBL based Tall Ferns Toni Edmondson and Micaela Cocks led their side from the front with 26 points and 25 points respectively.
The Opals looked to make the most of their size advantage from the start finding Jackson for several early baskets and seven points for the quarter.
While Jackson was finding her stroke, the Tall Ferns managed to execute on offence with Toni Edmondson scoring nine points in the term.
Kristen Veal’s inclusion into the game gave the Opals a boost with her five points coming late in the first giving the Opals a 20-16 quarter time lead.
The Opals struggled on offence at the start of the second term with the Tall Ferns putting together an impressive run of baskets to take a 34-28 lead midway through the term.
But the home side regained its composure and lifted their defence holding the Tall Ferns scoreless for the final three minutes of the quarter while going on an 11-0 run to take a 39-34 lead at half time.
Belinda Snell, Mariana Tolo and Nat Hurst led the way during the late quarter run.
Just as they did in game 1 of the series, the Opals stormed away to a big lead in the third term going inside to Jackson in the first play for a basket which would set the tone for the rest of the second half.
While Jackson looked likely to take over the game it was Snell who proved the most dangerous Opal making three three-pointers in the term as the Opals took their lead towards 20 points midway through the quarter.
Hanna Zavecz and Kelly Wilson also made a difference in the third quarter with their on-ball defence.
The Tall Ferns edged back into the game reducing the lead to 13 points but Jackson helped the Opals pull away in the final minutes of the third making a three-pointer just before the buzzer to help the home side to a 66-48 lead at three-quarter time.
Snell found a cutting Jackson from a layup out of a pick and roll to start the fourth term, from there the Opals cruised to victory with several inexperienced Opals making the most of extra game time.
The FIBA women’s world championships will be in Turkey in September and October next year.
Australian Boomers stars Patty Mills and Joe Ingles made sure their country remains king of Oceania, scoring a 76-63 victory over New Zealand to claim the 2013 FIBA Oceania Championship on Sunday.
With both sides already qualified for next year’s FIBA Basketball World Cup, the Boomers will receive a higher seeding for the tournament draw after winning Game Two of the series 76-63 at the AIS Arena in Canberra in front of a bumper crowd.
Mills had 13 of his 21 points in a match-winning third quarter run as the Boomers went from trailing by six points at half time to leading by 15 at three quarter time.
Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis said his side had learnt some valuable lessons in the series. Lemanis also praised his players for their commitment to playing in the series and shortening their off-seasons.
“There are good examples to take from two games on things we did well and things we didn’t do as well,” Lemanis said.
“In the second quarter in New Zealand and the second quarter here, we didn’t get the ball movement we needed and had to settle for jump shots.
“When that happens things can go against you pretty quickly in matches, so we have to get better in that area.
“In the third quarter we came out with great intensity defensively, we were aggressive and things started opening up for us on offence.”
Mills compared playing his first game at the AIS Arena to playing in the NBA finals and in the Olympics.
“It’s right up there, as crazy as it seems,” Mills said.
“It’s good to get one under the belt and to close out a series here.”
The San Antonio Spurs guard said the commitment of his teammates to the Boomers would enhance the team’s medal chances at the world cup.
“All the guys showing up was a good reflection, it shows we are committed,” Mills said.
“Everyone has got to understand the goal and understand it well. Whether the team is different or the same, everyone has to be committed to the program again.
“It will be all about motivation and commitment.”
Mills was named most valuable player of the men’s series. The Canberra-born NBA guard added five steals and was not the only Boomer in form with Ingles influential across the court with 12 points, four rebounds and six assists while Adelaide 36ers guard Adam Gibson scored 11 points and added four assists off the bench.
The European based Ingles scored seven points in the first term as the Boomers shot at 56 per cent helping themselves to a 20-17 quarter time lead.
The Tall Blacks found their shot and knuckled down on defence in the second term with the frustrated Boomers struggling to find open shots.
On the back of 10 first half points from Webster the Tall Blacks took a 39-33 lead into half time with Mills leading the Boomers with eight points.
It was all the Boomers in the third term with Mills taking over the game from the start of the third forcing a steal and open layup then making a three-pointer in transition from an Ingles pass.
With the crowd getting into the game, the Boomers pressured up the court forcing the Tall Blacks into four turnovers for the term and at the same time kick-starting their running game.
Mills made the most of more open shots to score 13 points for the term as the Boomers took the lead then extended their advantage to double figures.
Emerging Boomers star Dante Exum, 18, was introduced to the game late in the term lighting up the crowd with an athletic alley-oop layup as the Boomers led 61-46 at three quarter time.
The Boomers controlled proceedings for the whole final term with Exum and fellow teenager Ben Simmons coming into the game in the final minutes replacing Mills and Ingles.
The FIBA basketball world cup will be in Spain in August and September next year.