Both of Australia’s teams progressed to the finals of the 2017 FIBA 3×3 Asia Cup, with the women earning gold and the men taking home bronze in their event debut’s.
Australia’s gold medal winning side which entered then tournament ranked ninth, comprised of Isabelle Bourne, Sarah McAppion, Chantel Perera and Carlie Smith. The quartet navigated their way to the title undefeated, managing to ease past third ranked Turkmenistan in the quarterfinals, before accounting for China and then easing past Malaysia in the final.
Capping off an outstanding tournament was Bourne who was named All-Tournament MVP. Just 16 years old, the forward finished second in scoring with 35 points and was instrumental in helping Australia lift the Asia Cup at their first attempt.
The gold medal victory capped off a big day for Australian women’s basketball following the success of the Sapphires in winning the FIBA Asia U16 crown.
While the Australian women were the clear standouts of the women’s tournament, the men found the going a bit tougher as the number thirteen seeds. Represented by Lucas Barker, Darcy Harding, Owen Odigie and Andrew Steel, the men were required to win through a qualifying draw to reach the pool stage. With strong wins against Malaysia and Turkmenistan they progressed through unscathed into the main draw.
Number one ranked New Zealand awaited, ultimately proving more experienced in their final pool game, with the Trans-Tasman rivals securing a convincing 21-12 win. In a must-win contest against Qatar, the Australian’s fought off a stiff challenge to advance to the quarterfinals.
China proved no match for the Australian’s in their quarterfinal, however hosts Mongolia rode the support of their home fans to win a semifinal overtime thriller to relegate the Australian’s to the playoff for bronze. The Aussies bounced back to fend of Kazakhstan to secure bronze. Barker was selected to the All-Tournament team, with Mongolia’s Dulguun Enkhbat named MVP after guiding his team to gold.
With 3×3 basketball now included as an Olympic sport for Tokyo 2o20, the importance of events like these has never been greater for Basketball Australia. However more attention is required to grow the sport to ensure its success, as Australia’s representatives had little to no 3×3 experience entering the event, with none carrying any world ranking points.
Australia has the potential to be the dominant force within the FIBA3x3 Asia region, and with the investment of more time and resources into the development of the sport, the future looks bright.