The Australian Emus are set to make their debut at the 2018 FIBA Under-18 Asian Championships that is being held from 5-11 August in Nonthaburi, Thailand.
As tournament newcomers, the Emus have been pooled in Group C with hosts Thailand, Bahrain and Trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand who are also making their first appearance in the event.
Australia returns all ten players who dominated the 2017 FIBA Oceania U17 Championships on their way to the title. So superior was that side in the Oceania region, the Emus averaged a massive 142.6 points, 27 steals, and a winning margin of 104.2 points per game, sweeping aside New Zealand for a commanding 93-55 win. Samson Froling was rightfully awarded MVP for the final in that event, recording a big double-double of 22 points and 13 rebounds. He was joined in the All-Star Five by team mates Sean Macdonald and Kody Stattmann who were also brilliant throughout the event.
Point guard Tamuri Wigness also links with the team after a solid showing at the recent FIBA Under-17 World Cup where the Crocs finished 6th, while Tasmanian guard Tre Armstrong is the other addition to what is shaping as the tournament favourite.
Making the transition to the Asian region is the next challenge for this talented and extremely deep Emus side under the coaching direction of Darren Perry. While Australia enters the event as the highest ranked team, Iran returns as the reigning champions after having accounted for Japan in the final of the 2016 event, both of whim could be expected to provide stiff competition. China are the next highest ranked team behind the Emus and should also not be underestimated, boasting 7 players standing at 6'7 or taller, while Korea have a solid history at the event, and could well emerge as one of the challengers for a medal also.
Host Thailand will take on Australia in the opening game of the tournament, with the Emus then tackling Bahrain before closing out the group stage against familiar rivals New Zealand.
The top teams in each group will gain direct passage to the quarter-finals, with the sides that finish 2nd and 3rd in each group taking part in the playoffs to determine those teams which will advance to play against them.
Emus Schedule (all times AEST)
5 August: Australia vs Thailand @ 6:30pm 6 August: Australia vs Bahrain @ 1:30pm 7 August: Australia vs New Zealand @ 1:30pm 8 August: Qualification for Quarter-Finals (2nd & 3rd placed teams) 9 August: Quarter-Finals 10 August: Semi-Finals 11 August: Finals / Classification
Tre ARMONSTRONG / TAS Isaiah LEE / NSW Kody STATTMANN / QLD Tamuri WIGNESS / QLD Sean MACDONALD / VIC Aiden KRAUSE / QLD Joshua GATBEL / VIC Kyle BOWEN / WA Callum DALTON / QLD Samson FROLING / QLD Keli LEAUPEPE / VIC Tyler ROBERTSON / VIC
Head Coach: Darren PERRY Assistant: Robbie MCKINLAY Assistant: Chris ANSTEY