The men’s quarter-finals of the 2019 Asia Oceania Championships have been decided.
Japan finished top of the pool stages after subjecting the Australian Rollers to their first loss of the 2019 Asia Oceania Championship.
Japan were looking to get back to winning ways after their loss against Korea last night, whilst Australia were wanting to extend their unbeaten run in the tournament.
Both teams came out aggressively, playing with pace, passion, and skill. Australia edged the first quarter 17-16, whilst the second ended 19-19, giving the Australians a one-point advantage at the half-time break, 36-35.
Japan went up by one point after four minutes of the third, and the teams then traded baskets until a 9-0 run from Australia at the end of the quarter gave them some breathing space as they were able to take a six-point lead in to the final ten minutes, 53-47.
Japan stayed in the game, and slowly but surely closed the gap between themselves and their opponents, to be down by just one point with three minutes to play. Two unbelievable finishes from Japan‘s Reo Fujimoto, including a three-point play, took them into the lead in the closing stages. With the Japanese three points ahead and only four seconds left on the clock, Australia took a time-out, needing a three to tie the game and take it to over-time. With both teams back on the floor, Shaun Norris found himself open and put up a three-pointer which went in and out, meaning Japan got the win at the end of a fantastic game, 64-61. They secured top spot in Division 1 heading into the quarter-finals.
Scoring for both teams was across the board. Reo Fujimoto topped all scorers with 20 points with Kei Akita getting a double-double of 11 points and 14 rebounds. Bill Latham and Shaun Norris both hit 12 points to lead the scoring for Australia.
On court two, Iran and Korea were both looking to keep their winning streak going after good wins yesterday. Again, there was not much to separate the two teams in the first quarter as Korea held a slight advantage of two points, 14-12. The second quarter belonged to Iran as they started to slowly creep away from Korea thanks to the combination play of their three-big line-up, going in to half-time up by six, 34-28.
Iran increased their advantage straight after the break going on a 6-0 run, to put them 12 points ahead, and despite Korea’s efforts this deficit was too much for them to overturn and Iran secured the match winning 75-63. The win ensured Iran finished third in the Division 1 preliminary stage and Korea fourth.
Dong Hyeon Gim again led the Korean stats with a double-double of 22 points and 11 rebounds, whilst Omid Hadiazhar led the Iranian scoring with 23 points.
Quarter-final line-up – Thursday 5 December
16:00 – Australia vs Malaysia
16:30 – ran vs China
18:00 – Japan vs Saudi Arabia
18:30 – Korea vs Thailand
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 – X-1