Aussies advance to semis in U17 World Champs
The Australian U17 Men's basketball team will play-off for a medal at the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship in Lithuania, after they advanced to the semi-finals with an emphatic victory over South American powerhouse Argentina.
With things tight throughout the clash, the Aussies used a 17-0 fourth quarter run to grab a 78-59 victory in the Quarter-Finals, setting up a big clash with the yet undefeated Croatia.
Dante Exum paced the Australians with 23 points, while Ben Simmons scored all 12 of his points in the fourth quarter to go along with 5 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks.
With the Aussies trailing throughout the first half, it was the increase in defensive, causing Argentina to commit 20 turnovers, with the Australians also winning the rebound battle 40-26, that put them in a winning position,a dominant last quarter seeing them run over Argentina for the win.
Argentina led the first quarter in a tough period that saw them edge ahead ahead 17-14. They pushed the margin up to eight points in the second with the young Australians never seeing the lead, as they trailed 30-26 at halftime.
Australia took the lead in third quarter, with the edge see-sawing back-and-forth with 15 lead changes or ties, the two sides drawing level at 53-53 going into the final 10 minutes.
Despite the tight tussle, Australia produced a 17-0 run to blow the game open for a 70-54 lead with just more than three minutes to play, keeping the South Americans to just six points in the last quarter to seal the memorable victory.
Head Coach Guy Molloy was thrilled with his team’s performance, pointing out that the values of relentless persistence that has become synonymous with Australian basketball is what saw the young group to victory, as it was always going to be a grind it out finals type game against a very good South American team with the tournaments leading scorer.
The Aussies have now beaten the 2nd, 3rd and 4th best teams in Europe on their way to the semi finals, as well as the best African team and the 2nd best American team throughout this campaign. The semi final provides the opportunity to beat the best European team in Croatia, which would earn them a shot at a gold medal game against the winner out of USA and Spain. That prospect awaits.
Period 1 AUS 14-17 ARG
Half time AUS 26-30 ARG
Period 3 AUS 53-53 ARG
Full time AUS 78-59 ARG
Scorers: Exum 23, Simmons 12, Jackson 9, Martin 6. Derksen 6
Rebounders: Duncan (7/6), Simmons 5, Exum 3, Martin 3
Australia v Croatia
USA v Spain