In the men’s final of the 2019 Asia Oceania Championships in Pattaya, Thailand on Saturday (7th December), the Australia Rollers retained their title by triumphing over Korea, 62-45.
Australia established a large lead early on, 23-8 at the end of the first, as they found their shooting rhythm from the off whereas Korea struggled to find their touch. Australia added to their advantage in the second and third quarters, 10-7 and 16-10. Korea had some nice offensive play to unlock the tough Australian defence, but the final finishes weren’t quite there consistently enough.
Korea won the final quarter 20-13, but it was too little too late, as Australia continued their legacy at the Asia Oceania Championships of having won the title at every tournament.
Australia’s captain Shaun Norris led all scorers with 26 points, followed by Korea’s Dong Hyeon Gim who made a double-double of 20 points and 16 rebounds.
Australia’s Head Coach, Craig Friday, said:
“It was a pretty good tournament for the team. I know we won the final, but I was pretty disappointed how we finished the game. Where we want to be in nine months’ time, we need to be better than that; but credit to the guys, I felt we started really well and got some separation but just disappointed we didn’t put the polish on the game. But a solid week, we got a bit more to add and a bit more to do but pretty happy at where we are at the moment.”
Iran took home the bronze medal seeing off Japan, 66-55. It was a close opening five minutes of the game as the lead exchanged hands, until Iran went on a 6-0 run to end the first and a 4-0 run to open the second to give themselves a ten-point advantage. They won both quarters, 15-10 and 16-12, to lead at half-time, 31-22.
Japan were down by seven at the end of the third, winning it 18-16, bringing it back to a four-point deficit in the first minute of the fourth. Japan had the momentum and Iran looked like they could let the game slip. Japan just couldn’t draw level to really put the pressure on, and Iran steadied themselves. It was still close until midway through the period when Iran took control again with an 11-0 run, to see out the game and win, 66-55, and finish with the bronze.
A massive 33 points and 10 rebounds saw Iran’s Omid Hadiazhar top score. Naohiro Murakami top scored for Japan with 15 points in 13 minutes game time.
Australia, Korea and Iran will all join Japan at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games next year.
Thailand bettered their finish from the 2017 Asia Oceania Championships moving up above China to finish fifth.
In an exciting first half, the teams were neck and neck drawing the first quarter 18-18, and China narrowly winning the second to make it a three-point game at half-time, 37-34.
The third quarter saw Thailand’s Jumjarean Aekkasit continue to trouble the Chinese defence hitting 15 points of his teams’ 25 for the quarter to give them a six-point advantage going into the final period, 59-53. A number of missed shots and turnovers by China at the start of the fourth allowed Thailand to go on a 10-0 run, to really gain control of the game. It was too much for China to come back and Thailand ran out winners, 75-60.
Thailand’s Aekkasit had a massive 40 points and 12 rebounds, assisted by Pongsakorn Sripirom’s 19 points, and Kwanchai Pimkorn’s 10 points. China also had three in double figures – Lin Yinhai hit 18 points and 10 rebounds, Tan Huajun 16 points, and Yang Zheng 10 points.
It was a re-run of the Division 2 final in the battle for 7th and 8th place between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia. Again, it was Malaysia who came out on top, winning the first three quarters, 17-8, 16-13 and 18-7 to give them a comfortable twenty-three-point lead going into the final 10 minutes. Despite a Saudi Arabia rally in the last quarter to win it 23-14, Malaysia were victorious, 65-51.
Saudi Arabia’s Musa Alzahrani led all scorers with 19 points, with Mahdi Almakinah hitting 15 points. Malaysia had three players in double figures – Freday Yei Bing Tan (16), Ahmad Nazri Hamzah (13), and Muhamad Atib Zakaria (13 and 10 rebounds).
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.
Photo credit – X-1