No such thing as an easy game against the Australians...
The Australian women's basketball team has an impressive world ranking (# 3) compared to New Zealand (#15). Even in FIBA's rankings for girls teams, the Aussies top the Kiwis (#14 compared to #38).
There's no doubt that Australians treasure their superiority over the New Zealanders but seared into the consciousness of Australian basketball is the "upset" by New Zealand over Australia in the men's category, qualifying teams for the 2002 World Championships. Of course the Kiwis were not "upset" by that result, they were delighted.
With these few sentences you have some insight into matches between these two basketball neighbours and rivals.
The Australian women will do everything in their power to maintain their superiority over the New Zealanders and especially to maintain the pyschological advantage of never having lost an Oceania Championship to New Zealand.
Despite the fact that the Australian Gems had effectlively wrapped up the FIBA Oceania Championship for U-18 Women with a 79 to 66 victory in game 2, they were never going to willingly surrender to the Kiwis in game three. For their part, there is nothing more valued by the Kiwis than a win over Australia no matter when or how it occurs.
Their chances of achieving this in game 3 of the FIBA Oceania U-18 Championships for Women, received somewhat of a setback when Junior Tall Ferns Captain Samara Gallaher was ruled out through injury and Jasana Salmon decided for religious reasons not to participate in Sunday's game. Gallaher would be especially missed. In addition to her leadership, her 16 point contribution including 100 % from the charity stripe and behind the arc, kept the JTF's scoreboard ticking whenever she was in the game.
No favours were expected by the JTF's from Australia in this final game of the series and none were given. Some tough defence from the Australians kept the Kiwi scorers to a modest 64 points achieved at a shooting percentage from the field of 31%. The Australians prevented the New Zealanders from picking up many cheap baskets with a 43 to 29 domination of the rebounds.
There was plenty of effort from the JTF's. In a modest team scoreline, four Kiwis managed double figure scoring (Terei Sadler 13, Rhiaan Te Hira 12, Bayley Ross-Waitai & Jospehine Stockill 11). In contrast, only Rebecca Cole (16) and Nadeen Payne (11) managed double figures in the winning 80 point Australian scoreline.
In a summary of the Championship statistics, Ross-Waitai emerged as one of the mainstays of the JTF's offence, topping their scoring at 16 points per game. This included an impressive 11 three pointers - something no other player from either team came close to matching. Australia's Rebecca Cole (average of 17 points per game) and Madeleine Garrick (16) were leading scorers for Australia, but these numbers only serve to highlight the value of Ross-Waitai to the JTF's.
JTF Coach Darrell Pene could simply find no answer for the domination of the Gems, despite using all available players in a free rotation and using all time-outs to find a winning strategy.
Australian Coach Cheryl Chambers will savour a 3-0 series win over the Kiwis but will know that with a 45% shooting percentage from the field, 21 turnovers and 22 fouls, there are plenty of things to work on if the Gems want to achieve a podium finish in Chile in 2011.
Final Scoreline Australia 80 (41) defeated New Zealand 64 (35)
Scores by quarters:
First Quarter: New Zealand 13 Australia 27
2nd Quarter: New Zealand 22 (35) Australia 14 (41)
3rd Quarter: New Zealand 12 (47) Australia 28 (69)
4th Quarter: New Zealand 17 (64) Australia 11 (80)
Australia win the 2010 FIBA Oceania Championship for U-18 Women 3 games to 0 and qualify for the 2011 FIBA World Championships for U-19 Women.
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