Teams round out the FIBA Oceania U-19 Championships.
Saturday 22nd September, Porirua, New Zealand.
Australia Gems win 2012 Oceania U-19 Women's Championship three games to zero.
The New Zealand Junior Tall Ferns(JTFs) as home team for the 3rd match in the FIBA Oceania U-19 Championships for women, opened the progam at Te Rauparaha Arena in Porirua tonight in a match-up with the Australian Gems.
The JTFs got under the skin of the Australians in Game 1 of the series and came within a whisker of winning that match (see earlier story in the news section). As reported previously, a late scoring serge from the Gems gave them a 72 to 65 win, but it was a victory they only secured in the last 90 seconds of the game and they would have walked away from that game blessing their lucky stars.
Game 2 of the series could not have been more different, the Australians leading from start to finish for a final 89 to 55 victory and by winning the first two games in the series secured the Oceania zone qualification spot for the 2013 FIBA World Championships for U-19 Women to be held in Lithuania in July.
You could have been excused for thinking that with the series decided, a qualification spot earned and trans-Tasman bragging rights settled for another two years, that the final game in the series would be a 'dead rubber'.
If you expected that, you don't understand the rivalry between these two teams.
Forget the international commraderie of the exchange of coaching ideas that occured at the World Association of Basketball Clinic earlier the day when New Zealand and Australia coaches put their training and philosophies on display for all. Anytime Australia and New Zealand meet on the basketball court it's game on!
A Kiwi victory over Australia is the sweetest "w" of all and not to be passed up on any occassion. On the other team bench, with tough competition hard to find in our part of the world, the Australians treasure the chance to play good meaningful games and never go into a game they do not want to win.
So the scene was set for a tough game even though the series was decided.
Approximately 1500 fans gave the Te Rauparahara Arena a great atmosphere and most were there to cheer on the Kiwis.
New Zealand coach Sean Fuller gave his "go to" girl, Penina Davidson almost 30 minutes of game time and in fact all of the starting five, Rhaiah Spooner-Knight, Deena Franklin Brooke Blair and Chelseah Savage, spent more than 20 minutes in the thick of on-court action as the coach searched for a cherished win.
The Australians too looked to their starting five to keep a determined JTF's under the thumb. With the exception of Darcee Lee Garbin and Mikhaela Donnelly (17 mins), the rest of the Gems start five, Casey Jo Samuels, Carley Mijovic, Stephanie Talbot spent more than 20 minutes running the pine.
However, when the final siren sounded it was the contribution from the respective benches which was a large measure of the difference between the teams. The JTB bench contributed 18 points to their team's final scoreline, the Gems bench 37 - about 60% of the difference in the final scoreline.
Across the game the shooting percentage was not dramatically different, 35% for the Kiwis, 42% for the Aussies - a statisitic coach Cheryl Chamobers will not be comfortable with. However the Australians launched 85 attempts to score compared to 57 from New Zealand. There is no doubt that the Gems' domination of the backboards 59 to the JTFs' 36 helped with the better scoreline.
Davidson lead the NZL scoring with 12 with only Spooner-Knight & Jaime Campbell(10 each) sneaking into double figure scoring. In contrast 19 points from the Australian centre Carley Mijovic and 17 from Casey Samuels headlined three other players who went deep into double figures.
The officials gave the players the green light to 'just play' tonight with no player registering more than 3 'personals'. The officiating combined with the desire to win made for an at times physical encounter with several tough if unintentional contacts.
The fans liked what they saw and cheered their Junior Tall Ferns until the final siren.
Final Score: Australia 83(19, 27, 20, 17) defeated NZL 54(11, 14, 16, 13)
Congratulations to the Australian Gems in winning the series 3 game to 0 and representing their country and the Oceania zone in the 2013 World Championship for U-19 Women.
Australia Emus match record of women with 3 game sweep.
The emotions rippling through the Junior Tall Ferns and Australian Gems on game night of this final phase of the Oceania Championships was matched by their respective men's teams - but they added a dose of testosterone!
The passion of the Kiwis was reflected in their committed Haka, which preceeded the final talk from the coaches.
The crowd loved it and threw their vocal support behind the earnest Junior Tall Blacks (JTBs).
At half time, it looked like the home court advantage and the vocal local support might get the Kiwis over the line. As they went to the halftime break 46 to 44 favouring the Aussies it looked as if a Kiwi vicrtory was very possible. Up to this point the game had been tied 3 times and the lead had see-sawed 5 times.
An injury to JTB captain Rueben Te Rangi which caused him to leave the court for several minutes suddenly saw the Kiwi chance slip away. By midway through the third period the Emus had opened up a 15 point lead and they stretched that to 25 before the final quarter got underway.
On the positive side, the Kiwis got a much better spread of scorers tonight than in previous games, but they needed to. Captain Te Rangi was a 'marked man' due to his contributions in the first 2 games of the series and not for the lack of trying, could only manage 10 tonight. Andrew Kennerley took up some of the slack high scoring for his team with 12. The JTB's got valuable contributions from Mathew Lacey, William Soonalole and Thomas Vodanovich, but none in double figures. Vodanovich was an intense and physical presence for the Kiwis and appeared to have ripped a page from the play book of Tall Black legend Dillon Boucher. In the end the referees decided he had stepped over the limit too many times and he left the game in the final quarter with 5 fouls. In a team foul tally of 15, Vodanovich's contribution was testiment to his 'leave nothing to chance' style of play.
Australian centre Dane Pineau lead the scoring for the Emus, 18 points in 20 minutes of court time is close to a point a minute. Mirko Djeric(15) and Gerard Martin(11) also made double digit scoring contributions.
Thirty points from turnovers, 44 points in the paint and 32 points from the 'bench' for the Emus compared to 15 tunover points, 26 inside points and 23 from the Kiwi 'bench' showed the differences between the style and capacity of the two teams.
Final scoreline Australian Emus 93(26, 20, 28, 19) defeated the New Zealand Tall Blacks 60(20, 24, 5, 11).
Congratulations to the Australian Emus in winning the series 3 game to 0 and representing their country and the Oceania zone in the 2013 World Championship for U-19 Men.