With all Australian 3×3 Basketball teams making the finals, three experienced the joy of making it to the gold medal matches, while one will contest for the bronze medal after a shattering loss.
Semi-final vs. England
Despite the blustery conditions and a fierce English opponent, the Australian women’s wheelchair 3×3 basketball team has made the gold medal match, defeating England, 8-6 in the semi-finals.
Australia came into the contest full of confidence, comprehensively defeating Scotland and South Africa in the group stage. England, after winning its first group stage match against Kenya, lost to Canada in its previous match. All eyes were on Australia to see if its unbeaten run would continue.
Amber Merritt started where she left off in the group stage, opening the scoring for Australia less than eight seconds into the game. She continued to lead the Aussies offensively finishing with four points but could have finished more if she had improved on her four from 14 one-point shooting.
England’s Joy Haizelden and Charlotte Moore took advantage of those misses, grabbing seven and five rebounds respectively but couldn’t convert them to scores. Amy Conroy tried her best to get the English over the line, scoring three straight points to keep them in touching distance of the Aussies.
The 29-year-old had an opportunity to level the scores and potentially send the game into overtime when she took a two-point shot with 17 seconds remaining. However, it fell short and Australia was able to grab the rebound, sending itself into the first ever basketball 3×3 women’s wheelchair gold medal match.
Australia will face Canada in the Women’s gold medal match tomorrow at 5:00 am AEST.
Quarter-final vs. Kenya
Australia has had to make a comeback to advance to the semi-final to play Scotland, winning 20-15 over Kenya after starting the game down 4-0.
Australia’s ability to play in the paint on both sides of the ball was a standout in how it was able to take the game into its hands, especially under the two-minute mark of the game.
Daniel Johnson was the most valuable player in the Aussies’ victory, hitting the two free throws to ice the game and playing incredible defence to match Kenya’s fast physical pace. He contested the layups and grabbed the rebounds from the Kenyan misses, especially in the final four minutes.
The big difference in the physical play was Australia being able to get fouls on its way to the basket. Australia was able to hit seven out of 10 free throws.
Tom Wright led Australia in scoring for the first time in the Birmingham Games, scoring eight of its 20 points.
Wright’s scoring was effective in a multitude of ways, such as isolating Kenya’s defenders one on one for a layup, running successful pick and rolls from the wing to get into the paint, and hitting deep shots, especially to help minimise the lead when they were down.
Semi-final vs. Scotland
Australia’s perimeter play gained momentum in its win over Scotland, winning 20-15.
After starting the game down five to one, once Gareth Murray from Scotland was subbed off with a cut to the lip, Australia went on a nine to five run that saw a lot of easy baskets in the paint.
Tom Wright drew double teams and was able to get it to one of his big men in the post, taking advantage of the mismatch. Australia managed to grab more rebounds, winning the battle 20-14 and continued to shoot efficiently in the Commonwealth Games.
Australia struggled to keep the ball in its hands at the start of the game, turning it over three times in comparison to Scotland’s only turnover occurring in the last minute of the game.
The Aussies’ ability to hit deep shots as the lead was declining continued through this game as well, managing to hit four two-pointers at 67 per cent.
Australia will face England in the gold medal match tomorrow at 5:30 am. The Aussies will hope to reverse their fortunes after losing to the English in the group stage.
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Semi-final vs. England
Australia was held under 21 points in its matchup with England for the first time in this Commonwealth Games, losing 21-15.
After a close start in a physical match-up, England gained momentum, hitting multiple two-point shots on pick and roll plays exposing Australia’s drop coverage on Hannah Jump.
The game was won on the defensive end, with Shanice Beckford-Norton having multiple important steals and making Australia commit offensive fouls.
Australia’s defence was exposed, especially later in the game with Cheridene Green gaining two and-ones, one of which would make England’s lead 14-12 before another deep shot from Jump extended its lead to 16-12.
England would then gain a three-point play, where Green would extend its lead to 19-13 with a minute left. Australia’s efficiency was not present in this game, taking contested shots and missing layups they were making in every game before the semi-final.
Green would make a layup to make the game 20-13 before Australia hit a two-point shot. Beckford-Norton would hit the game-winning free throw for England to advance to the final for the gold nedal match.
Australia will play for the bronze medal against New Zealand tomorrow at 1:30 am AEST.
Semi-final vs. England
With a lot on the line in the men’s wheelchair semi-final between Australia and England, the clash proved to be a thriller. Australia pulled off an amazing comeback to get over the line in overtime thanks to some Lachlin Dalton heroics.
With a spot in the gold medal match, the first couple of minutes consisted of aggressive defence with neither team giving an inch. England’s Lee Manning opened the scoring and would continue to have a huge say on the outcome of the match.
The Australian trio of Luke Pople, Lachlin Dalton, and Kurt Thomas struggled to knock down shots early, an occurrence that has happened often in Australia’s last couple of matches.
When unable to hit shots, it’s important to get the rebound, but the Aussies couldn’t contain Lee Manning who had four boards in the first three minutes of play.
For the next couple of minutes, Australia continued its scoring troubles with England continuing to play aggressive defence, not allowing Australia easy points in the paint. It wasn’t until Jake Kavanagh scored at the five-minute mark that the Aussies scored their second point of the match.
Australia found itself down five points to two with less than five minutes of play to go. Digging deep, it scored three straight points to reduce the deficit to one.
As the match continued, you could see the pressure overcome the young English players as Abderrahim Taghrest gave away a technical foul, throwing the ball away in frustration, sending Luke Pople to the line. Pople made the free throw.
Australia took the lead for the first time in the match with less than a minute to play, thanks to a Jake Kavanagh bucket. Australia was able to hit the dagger, leaving the door for England to either win or send the game into overtime.
It looked over but Manning had other ideas, grabbing the defensive rebound off a Kavanagh miss. He passed off to teammate Charlie McIntyre who passed the ball back to Manning to score the game-tying basket, to end regulation with the scores level on 10 all.
In overtime, the first team to score two points wins. Manning started where he left off, scoring the first point of overtime for England before Dalton hit a contested two-point shot to send the Aussies into the gold medal match.
Manning (seven points and 10 rebounds) and McIntyre (three points and five rebounds) did everything they could to get England over the line. It was an even spread for the Aussies, with Dalton scoring three points, while Pople and Kavanagh scored four points each.
Australia will play Canada in the gold medal match tomorrow at 4:30 am AEST. Australia will hope it can replicate its performance from the group stage when it defeated Canada, 13-11.
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