Despite a little scare in the opening half, Australia came from behind to win against China to go 4-0 at the 2019 Asia Oceania Championships.
China, without a win at the championships so far, really took the game to the unbeaten Australia Rollers in the first half of the game, benefitting from some unusually poor shooting from the Australians and hitting points on the fast break. They took a 30-27 lead in to half-time.
Australian Head Coach Craig Friday went back on his three x 3.0’s line-up and straight away it proved effective as they went on an 8-0 run to take the lead. China rotated their line-ups to try to find an answer, but Australia dominated the quarter to take a ten-point advantage into the final period. As China chased the game, Australia showed why they are regarded as one of the best teams in the world, winning the final quarter in style, 16-5, to secure the victory and maintain their winning record.
Bill Latham top scored for Australia with 14 points, Clarence McCarthy-Grogan 10 points. Three players for China made double figures: Yan Lei (13), Lin Yinhai (13), and Zu Haiming (10).
Iran came out with a point to prove after their disappointing losses so far this tournament and dominated Thailand, who were without influential player Kwanchai Pimkorn due to injury, from start to finish. Thailand couldn’t control the height and power of the Iranians inside the paint as they scored freely at the offensive end, whilst also dominating at the defensive end. The first three quarter scores of 21-8, 25-6, and 25-6 meant that Iran could rotate and rest players as they wanted through the game, and although Thailand rallied in the fourth winning it 17-14, Iran got the win, 85-37, to go 2-2 in the tournament.
Pongsakorn Sripirom top scored for Thailand with 21 points, whilst five players scored in double figures for Iran, Mohammad Hassan Sayari leading the way with 20 points.
Korea caused the upset of the day as they put an end to Japan’s unbeaten start to the tournament. Korea came out and took the game to Japan, with the powerful Dong Hyeon Gim leading the charge, as they won the first half by seven points, 32-25.
Japan weren’t out of it and brought it back to a one-point game with two minutes to go in the third. Despite Korea extending their lead again slightly, Japan had won the quarter, 16-14, to set up an exciting last period. With Korea just five points ahead with ten minutes to play, both teams started the fourth tentatively before an 8-0 run midway through the quarter gave Korea some breathing space. They maintained the gap to the end to win the game 67-55, and leapfrog Japan in to second place in the standings.
Dong Hyeon Gim had a huge game for Korea with a double-double of 30 points and 13 rebounds. Reo Fujimoto led the Japanese scorers with 16 points.
The championships, being hosted by the Sports Association for Wheelchair Basketball Thailand, will tell us which countries from the Asia Oceania Zone will qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. Tomorrow is the first full day of action with 10 matches over two courts over the course of the day.
Photograph copyright – X1