Australian U17 Men's squad defeat New Zealand to qualify for 2016 FIBA U17 World Championship
Redemption is sweet.
The Australian U17 Men's squad has qualified for the 2016 FIBA U17 World Championship after defeating New Zealand - whom they were defeated by, just a few days earlier - in the gold medal game of the FIBA Oceania U16 Championships.
Dragan Elkaz had the hot-hand in the first quarter, giving Australia the early lead - a lead they held until the final whistle, coming away with the 91-86 victory.
Photo credit: Photosport NZ
Earlier in the week, when the hometown Kiwis got the better of Australia, they were able to dominate the paint, out-rebounding the Australians by a significant margin.
To open this fixture, that looked as though it would continue, with New Zealand's bigs controlling the glass, helping them jump out to an early lead.
Australia, who aren't known as a particularly adept 3-point shooting team, then began to get into a rhythm from behind the arc, with Dragan Elkaz hitting three 3-pointers in the first five minutes of the first quarter. Both teams would trade buckets, with Australia taking the slight 20-18 edge at the end of the period.
With Australia looking fluid on the offensive end, Centre of Excellence scholarship holder Tom Fullarton led a 10-1 run to begin the second quarter, extending their lead to double-figures.
New Zealand's Hamish McDonald helped halt Australia's run with his aggressiveness on both ends of the floor, but Australia refused to let the Kiwis back into the game, with the bench duo of Sam Froling and Patrick Bines carrying the scoring load for the latter portion of the half, before Kyle Zunic hit a tough layup at the buzzer.
Australia would enter the main break with a 42-32 advantage, Elkaz leading the way with 15 points and 3 rebounds.
The second half saw New Zealand attempt to get back in the game, but Australia had answers for every Kiwi run, with Matthew Johns hitting some important shots in the period - including an uncharacteristic three-pointer.
Lachlan Dent ended the third period on a personal 7-0 run, extending Australia's lead to 64-56 heading into the final term.
Photo credit: Photosport NZ
New Zealand's Quinn Clinton and Daniel Fotu spear-headed a run to open the fourth quarter, bringing the Kiwis to within three points - Australia holding on to the 80-77 lead, late in the game.
However, it was Australia who prevailed. Patrick Bines hit a dagger three-pointer, while his teammates hit their free-throws to seal the win, and the qualification for the 2016 FIBA U17 World Championship.
The final score saw Australia come away with the 91-86 win. Dragan Elkaz finished the game with 20 points and 4 rebounds, while Tom Fullarton had an impressive 17 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists.
Lachlan Dent was quietly effective, posting 14 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 steals, while doing a great job controlling the pace of the game.
This win sees Australia qualify for the 2016 FIBA U17 World Championship, to be held in Spain next year.
For more information on the roster and recaps from games throughout the week, visit our Australian U17 Men’s central page.