The Australian U19 Men’s squad has completed the unlikely win over Serbia, advancing to the quarter-finals of this year’s FIBA U19 World Championship.
In a game that pegged Serbia as the hands-down favourite to win, the Emus used an inspired second quarter run to propel themselves to the quarter-finals of the event – defeating Serbia 69-56 in an exciting affair.
Leading the way for the Emus was Jack McVeigh with 18 points and 12 rebounds, whilst Dejan Vasiljevic and Kyle Clark both chipped in with 15 points apiece.
After a slow start to the first quarter, Australia managed to find their range from the perimeter. The ball movement from the Emus looked much more fluid, relative to their previous games, and there seemed to be no hesitation when it came to shooting the ball. Jack McVeigh, in particular, looked extremely aggressive to open the game, looking to force his way to the basket whenever possible.
After a very energetic first period for both squads, the Emus led 21-18.
The second quarter saw Dejan Vasiljevic – who has Serbian lineage, himself – take over the contest. Vasiljevic scored 10 of his 15 points in the second period, extending the Emus’ lead. McVeigh continued to use his diverse skill-set to be effective on the offensive end, while William McDowell-White proved to be the catalyst off the bench for this squad, once again.
To the surprise of many – including the crowd in Heraklion – Australian opened up a double-digit lead over the Serbians, leading 42-27 heading into the half.
Serbia opened the third quarter with a renewed sense of urgency, scoring the first five points of the period. Australia, however, was armed to respond, showing off their intrinsic Australian grit – a trait that seemed lost in the Emus’ opening few games. George Blagojevic was a big spark for the Emus in this period, along with the continued aggression of McVeigh.
The Emus picked up their aggression on the defensive end to start the fourth period, halting any semblance of a Serbian run. Managing to keep their lead in double-figures, Australia cruised to the finish line – coming away with the 69-56 victory.
This game saw much more fluidity with the ball movement, and man movement, from the Emus. Team captain, Tom Wilson, whose evolution to the point guard spot continues to take its strides, looked more confident running the offence, today.
Another big factor in this win was the presence of Deng Gak, particularly on the defensive end. The big-man out of NSW used his size and length to alter shots at the rim, whilst also proving to be a very capable defender in the post.
Watch a full replay of the game below. The boxscore can be found here.
The Emus will face Turkey during Friday night’s quarter-finals action, with the game to be live streamed on livebasketball.tv. The game will tip off at 8:45pm (AEST).