3×3 Basketball made its Commonwealth Games debut on Day one and the Australian squads made their presence felt recording four victories.
Australia’s defence was too strong against the small-ball and fast-paced Scotland in the Pool A matchup, limiting Scotland to nine points. Australia started off cold with two airball shots in the paint meanwhile Scotland start off with two quick baskets in the paint and held their own on the defensive end.
Both teams were aggressive and physical to start the game. Australia then went big, with its three biggest players on the court, which allowed them to go to the basket more often and draw contact. After the first three minutes, Australia had a five to four lead over Scotland.
Scotland’s Kennedy Lennard was hitting threes from deep range against Australia, however, Australia was able to hit multiple threes of its own early on, giving it a decent lead in the game, being up 13 to six over Scotland with just under five minutes to go.
Claire Paxton showed her ability to score, helping Scotland shorten the gap times but Australia was able to counter Scotland’s fast play by going big and playing physical defence that made Scotland turn over the ball and hit shots from all over the court, especially threes.
Lauren Scherf also showed her back-to-the-basket ability, playing one on one with small defenders on her.
After a slow start from both teams, Australia took the lead, dominating the rebounds over Kenya to win 21-15.
Kenya kept it close by hitting five two-point shots at a 62 per cent clip. However, Australia was able to rebound and pass the ball much more effectively, having eight assists in the game.
Australia’s experience really made the difference, making the right plays and controlling its possessions maturely compared to Kenya’s offence, especially down the stretch.
Kenya from behind kept it close with Australia, hitting key shots to be only behind by one point with just under three minutes of play remaining. Lauren Scherf continued to play dominantly in the paint, especially as the game went down to the wire.
Marena Whittle hit the game-winning point from the foul line, as well as getting points in the paint and hustled for rebounds, especially off her missed shots.
Kenya’s turnover count, although the same as Australia, denied it a chance to gain the lead.
The Australian women’s team will line up again on Sunday against Sri Lanka to book a spot in the semi-final.
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It was a successful night for the Aussies on court, with the Australian men’s wheelchair team beating off the challenging Canadian team to narrowly win 13-11.
It was a tense first two minutes, with both sides only scoring one point apiece. Turnovers and missed free throws cost both teams. Aussies Luke Pople and Lachlin Dalton were quick to clean up their mistakes though, picking up two boards each in the scramble.
Coming into the third minute, Kurt Thomson was substituted off for Jake Kavanagh, who made his presence known quickly on the rebound. Through a handy two-point shot from Colin Higgins though, Canada quickly retook the lead.
Australia would manage to square up the ledger back to 7-7 before giving away a team foul, taking Vincent Dallaire to the line. He wasn’t able to make the most of it and Australia worked hard on the board to give Dalton a prime opportunity to sink a two-pointer.
Dalton’s shooting saw the Aussies safely home, hitting another two-point shot just seconds later to secure victory. Shooting at 3/5 from range, he led Australia in scoring with eight points, while Pople topped the boards with six.
Higgins was the clear standout for Canada, with seven points and six rebounds. He couldn’t find his shots though, going just 1/8 from range.
Australia will line up again on Sunday against Northern Ireland to book a spot in the semi-final.
The Australian women’s wheelchair team made light work of Scotland in their first group match, winning 12-5 in a strong first showing. Locking down the rim, they only let five points through, with Jude Hamer the only Scot able to score.
28-year-old Amber Merritt led the way defensively, finishing with five boards to go with her five points. Had she been able to improve on her 4/14 one-point shooting, this could have been an even more dominant showing for Australia.
Robyn Love took advantage of the misses for Scotland, racking up a massive eight rebounds of her own. She proved a strong defensive force, but couldn’t convert her time in possession onto the scoreboard.
Australia was hot on changing up its lineup, with Hannah Dodd and Ella Sabljak rotating off the bench throughout the match. It proved effective after a slow first few minutes, with the Aussies building up a 5-1 lead before the Scots hit back through Hamer.
Sabljak made her presence known with back-to-back offensive boards, including off her own shot, to draw a foul and make her free throw. The momentum only built from there as Georgia Inglis and Merritt combined to put up shot after shot.
Australia will enter Sunday’s clash with South Africa full of confidence but will be nervously eyeing off England as a potential semi-final or final opponent after it destroyed Kenya 20-1
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