Jr. NBA World Championship heads to next round

THE pool stage is over at the Jr. NBA World Championship… but the action is only heating up from here for Bulleen and Eltham.

Our two under-14 national champions have swapped the blue-and-gold and red-and-black respectively for the unified colours of Asia Pacific.

Representing our region at the inaugural Jr NBA World Championship, the two sides have gotten into the swing of things over in Orlando, Florida with both teams taking two wins and a loss from the International 2 pool.

Asia Pacific girls dominated the first clash with a 57-11 rout of India, keeping their opponent to just 1 point through the second half. Tess Heal (14 points, seven rebounds), Ally Marshall (10 points) and Maggie Sullivan (10 points) proved too mighty for the Indian side to contain.

They backed up later on day one to finish off South America with a similar margin. A 58-16 blowout was also highlighted by a complete shutdown in the second half as South America couldn’t break through the likes of Ella Mcintyre (12 points, five rebounds), Tess Heal (eight points), Amisyn Leigh (eight points) and Emily Maltezos (eight points).

The girls lost a nailbiter against Europe this morning, downed 49-50 with nothing separating the teams all game. It went back and forth through the final term as Emily Maltezos (six points) lit up the stadium with back to back threes to go ahead 49-46. Europe made the most of its foul shots and a last-ditch three ball from Carolina Ruiz Molina to give the Bulleen girls one shot on the clock to take the win. The final play didn’t fall Asia Pacific’s way but the side will take great confidence from their performance heading into the second stage against other international teams.

Bulleen coach Travis Heal said the experience had been amazing so far and the girls had relished the atmosphere and environment against other international sides.

“The Junior NBA is a privilege to attend and is by far the biggest thing these kids have ever experienced,” Heal said. “There are cameras following the girls around and they are just soaking up this amazing opportunity.

“On the court we won convincingly in our first two games against India and then South America and our style of play was a lot more physical and better structured.

“We lost to Europe by one point – had a time out and drew up a play which we didn’t quite nail the shot, so the girls are right there in this tournament.

“Watching the US teams is incredible – there is a girl who can dunk – yes it’s legit!

“They play a lot of zone and we are looking forward to the opportunity.”

The Asia Pacific girls sit second in their pool heading into tomorrow’s First Round of elimination clashes.

NBA

Kristian Ferronato flies for Asia Pacific. PICTURE: Pamela Costello/NBAE via Getty Images

The boys started the pool strongly with an 80-43 win over India. Anton Stratov (15 points, five rebounds), Kristian Ferronato (13  points, nine rebounds) and Brad Moorey (12 points, six rebounds) led the scoresheet.

They followed it up with a textbook win over South America 64-39 from powerhouse efforts via Brad Moorey (22 points, 10 rebounds, Kristian Ferronato (12 points, nine rebounds), Zahn Agosta (10 points, five steals) and Harry Stones (seven points, five rebounds).

The side clamped down on anything that moved in the South America key and kept them to 11 points through the middle terms. Their blanking effort at both ends shined through with 21 steals as they also reeled in plenty of second chance boards and points to boot.

But the Europeans ran away with the third clash, taking charge in the third term to knock over the Wildcats’ crew 46-58. Our lads led through the early stages but couldn’t put away Europe after half-time.

Zahn Agosta (eight points), Kristian Ferronato (seven points, seven rebounds) and Riley Lewis (seven points) led from the front in a gallant display from our club team battling a hand-picked all-star European-wide squad.

There’s plenty of time left in this tournament to make an impact as the boys will head through as International Pool 2 Seed 2 heading into tomorrow’s First Round.

For all the statistics and information about the clashes, head to the Jr NBA World Championship website.

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