#AUSChamps – Day 5 Review

ANZAC Day stands as a stark reminder of just how lucky we are to live in the era we do.

We’re able to play and watch basketball as both passion and career. We can attain our own standards in any aspect of life and choose to live however we wish. Throughout subsequent wars and conflicts, the overriding ability to self-govern and seek our own paths to happiness were absolutes we’d never trade or diminish.

Those paragon standards were upheld by Australia’s servicemen and servicewomen across the generations, whether serving at home or abroad in hot conflicts or serving as peacekeepers for rescue and revival. Those, and many more, were the Australian values we risked it all to protect.

To anyone who has donned the uniform, and especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice, we as a nation remain eternally grateful for your service. Lest we forget.

Gemma Potter

Gemma Potter was part of the phenomenal Vic Metro fightback on Wednesday night. Picture: BASKETBALL VICTORIA

VICTORIA METROPOLITAN WOMEN

Wow. Just wow.

How can you put into words a result like that? A 66-64 victory with a buzzer-beater from Sophia Locandro to clinch the win over NSW Metro. What makes that win all the more impressive was how far back we had to come from to earn it. Through the middle stages of the clash, Vic Metro was 20 points down. Approaching the final seven minutes of the fourth term, we were 13 down. With 40 seconds left, we had drawn level. And by the end of the outing, Vic Metro had jubilantly claimed the massive confidence booster heading in to finals.

In complete contrast, our first and fourth terms were up-tempo, confident and proactive… while the middle terms the girls couldn’t contain the NSW Metro dominance of both ends of the court. It was an uphill challenge – arguably the biggest yet of the tournament for the Metro women – but in the end maybe that challenge is the best thing for them.

Everything enhanced when the side returned to the court for the final term.

Lily Scanlon (19 points, five rebounds, five assists) was magnificent. When we rolled the dice and put in the tall-ball line-up, she was the guard marshalling the play and catching NSW Metro off-guard on the drive. Diving on the loose ball, forming those important links in the passing chain… she truly excelled when the moment called on her. In league with Eliza Hollingsworth (18 points, 11 rebounds), the pair formed the nucleus of the Victorian fightback.

With eight minutes left on the clock, we had to reel in a 13-point margin. Scanlon, Hollingsworth and Gemma Potter (six points) began the rise back with a flurry of steals, assists and rebounds to give NSW Metro pause. The score slowly began to fall back towards an even field as blocks and rebounds via Sara-Rose Smith (five points, five rebounds) and Locandro (eight points, five rebounds).

Sophia Locandro

Sophia Locandro put up the match winner to give Vic Metro the 66-64 win. Picture: BASKETBALL VICTORIA

The back-and-forth going from even to down by two would consume the remaining two minutes as Hollingsworth, Locandro and Scanlon kept Victoria alive. With only three-point-six seconds to play with following NSW Metro tying it up, the pass went to Hollingsworth who put up the shot that just didn’t fall… before Locandro had the merest of moments to put up the match-winner. On review of the tape she had around one frame between the ball leaving her hand and the siren sounding… talk about intense! The scenes of jubilation speak highly of what that win meant to the girls and most importantly – what their determination and grit is truly made from.

“We’ve got a really talented group and they know how to win,” head coach Reece Potter said. “This was probably the first time in the tournament they’ve been tested and really in our preparation, playing in a tournament environment in a night game with a pretty big crowd.

“NSW Metro played one hell of a game so credit to them, they had a good game plan and were pretty physical and it messed with us to start with.

“We battled back and down 17 at half time isn’t a great look and isn’t what is expected, but we were able to come back and some of the efforts individually and collectively were really strong.

“Hopefully we don’t have to do a tip-in on the buzzer again but that was a great job to fight back.”

Victoria Metro will face Queensland North from 5pm on the show court.

KEVIN COOMBS CUP

Tipping off in emphatic style, our Victorian junior wheelchair basketball team proved far too strong for South Australia in a 95-28 triumph. Playing in front of the tournament’s namesake – Kevin Coombs himself – proved just as big of a thrill for the side as it managed to rack up the sizeable victory through sharing the workload.

With a slew of familiar faces on the opposing line-up – as Victorians helped fill the gaps in the South Australian line-up – it was a bit of a Vic-fest on court on Wednesday morning. Fortunately the Victorians wearing the navy blue were able to assert themselves early and take command of the clash.

Jaylen Brown

Jaylen Brown vies for the ball in our Kevin Coombs Cup victory. Picture: BASKETBALL VICTORIA

Victoria’s experience shone through as Jontee Brown (20 points, 11 rebounds, five assists), Brian Carminati (25 points, 10 steals, seven assists, five rebounds) and Jeremy Tyndall (eight points, five assists) started the ball rolling. Teisha Shadwell (20 points, six rebounds, six assists) impressed in her Victorian debut as she proved another significant challenge for South Australia to defend.

The junior brigade were given the keys to the castle for good chunks of the clash as the future of our Kevin Coombs Cup team was put through its paces. With the likes of Shadwell, James Weinert (eight points), Jaylen Brown (seven points) and Bailey Jankovic (four points) setting the tempo in the second half, the signs are strong for the present and future of the program. But the future can wait as Victorian eyes are locked on battling NSW and Western Australia today in a double-header.

Jack Terrill

Jack Terrill pops up in Vic Country’s important victory over SA Metro. Picture: BASKETBALL VICTORIA

VICTORIA COUNTRY MEN

Booking a place in the quarter finals, the Victoria Country men fought past SA Metro 76-59 after a second-half blow out sealed our spot in the last eight. It was a hard grind early as SA Metro fought back ably, but the gears started turning in our favour through the last 20 minutes.

Liam Herbert (23 points, seven rebounds, five assists) and Jay Rantall (20 points) led the way in a manner we’ve come to expect from the Australian representatives. Broden Collins (10 points), Harry Pepper (seven points) and Kai Daniels (six points, six rebounds) also made their mark on the game as Vic Country stretched SA Metro beyond its coping point.

The Country men’s victory has earned them the right to square off against the Victoria Metro men in the first quarter final, held at 7pm this evening.

Sam Taulapiu

Sam Taulapiu splits the defence in Vic Metro’s textbook triumph on Wednesday. Picture: BASKETBALL VICTORIA

VICTORIA METROPOLITAN MEN

Keeping their squeaky clean record proved a bit easier for the Victoria Metropolitan men than the women yesterday, as the men racked up a convincing 102-58 victory over QLD South. Rattling off 40 per cent from the three-point line and generally terrorising the visitors up and close as well, the Metro men finished the pool stage on a high note ahead of the challenges to come through finals.

Will Tattersall (18 points, nine rebounds) showcased his versatility as he slashed and attacked the ring on one hand, while stepping back to nail the long-ball consistently on the other. Josh Bannan (16 points, 10 rebounds, four blocks) had a field day under the ring, Sam Taulapiu (12 points) found some nice looks while Kobe Williamson (11 points, eight rebounds) was unstoppable from only 12 minutes court-time.

All told it cemented the style Vic Metro wants to execute across the run home and head coach Darren Perry was pleased with the improvement across the board throughout the pool stage.

“I think we’re playing better a group every day and we defended really well,” Perry said. “They (QLD South) have some great athletes that can get to the rim and we got in their way, challenged shots and put some pressure on as all the boys contributed as well which was great.

“Like all weeks you start the week and you start at a certain level and the knowledge of the system, rules and how to be – everyone is on that path and I think we’re getting better and we’re certainly looking forward to finals.”

Metro faces Country from 7pm on the show court in what is set to be an enthralling all Victorian clash.

Agnes

Agnes Emma-Nnopu was sensational against WA Country. Picture: BASKETBALL VICTORIA

VICTORIA COUNTRY WOMEN

Returning to the winner’s list after a two-day absence, Victoria Country women found some much needed tempo and rhythm in a textbook 97-48 victory over WA Country. They knuckled down early to leave no chance of a WA Country comeback as the likes of Georgia Amoore (11 points, six rebounds), Ella Ogier (11 points, eight repoints, five steals) and Agnes Emma-Nnopu (17 points, 13 rebounds, six steals, five assists) stole the show.

The Country women split their efforts across the board as we racked up assists and shared the scoring across a valued return to the victorious side of the ledger. Olivia Pollerd (16 points), Jade Melbourne (13 points) and Ally Knights (12 points) continued their bottom-age under-18 campaigns in style.

Finishing third in Pool B, Victoria Country will face NSW Metro from 1.15pm today on the show court.

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