Australia have stunned Italy in the semifinals of the 2018 Albert Schweitzer Tournament to progress to the final for the first time since winning the event in 2010.
Having qualified for the semifinal after finishing second in their group behind hosts Germany, Australia took on an unbeaten Italian side that had advanced following victories over China, Egypt, USA, Russia and France. Yet against the rising stars from down under, the Italian's had no answer, as they were eventually blown out 84-51, with Callum Dalton pouring in a game-high 30 points.
The Australian's opened the game in aggressive fashion, quickly opening up a 10 point lead thanks to some blistering defence and hot-shooting from Alex Ducas from beyond the arc. Their lead would be cut back to 7 at the first break as the Italian's fought back.
Australia lifted their intensity to another level in the second period, and was able to successfully turn defence into offence. Able to score some easy baskets in transition, the Aussies took control of the game and a 14 point advantage into the half time break.
Able to maintain their defensive pressure in the second half, Australia's ball movement was also slick, and tat was bad news for Italy. Michael Cassidy's 9-man team capitalised with good shot selection, as the lead ballooned out past 20 points. With the Italian's on the back foot and trying to mount a comeback, Dalton made sure there would be no such miracle comeback.
Dalton scored 15 straight points in a flurry in the final term to bury the talented Italians who were out-scouted and out-played by a committed and well-drilled Australian side who stormed into the final with a 33 point win.
The Queenslander was on fire in the semi final, delivering one of the most scintillating performances at the event. In compiling a game-high 30 points, Dalton shot 13-22 from the field including 4-8 from three-point territory. He also pulled down 8 rebounds and handed out 5 assists with just a single turnover in a complete performance.
With the pre-tournament withdrawal of Virginia-bound Kody Stattmann due to injury, and Hunter Goodrick sidelined by an ailment of his own, the Australian's were forced to compete with just 9 fit players.
Aiden Krause continued his outstanding form in adding 16 points (4-7 3PT) with 9 rebounds and 4 steals, while Alex Ducas chimed in with 12 points, and Sam Froling with 10 points and 7 rebounds.
Australia dominated almost every statistical category in the game, forcing the Italian's into poor shooting (27.8% FG) while sharing the ball around for good shots themselves, handing out 16 assists and shooting 44.7% themselves.
The final will see Australia take on hosts Germany and a chance to avenge their only loss of the tournament from the group stage. Germany advanced to the final following a narrow 5 point win over Russia (80-75).
Australia has a rich history success in participating at the Albert Schweitzer tournament, and is just one of just 11 countries to have won the event. With two bronze medals in 1994 and 2008, Australia has a chance to win for the first time since Most Valuable Player Mitch Creek guided Australia to the gold medal in 2010. David Andersen also earned MVP honours back in 1998 when Australia claimed silver behind Spain.
As with the entire tournament, the final will be live streamed, with the game tipping off at 12:15am AEST on Sunday, 8 April 2018.