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Gems in box seat for World Cup qualification after defeating Chinese Taipei
Having blown out the cobwebs the previous night against Indonesia, Australia's Gems have made it two from two at the FIBA Under 18 Women's Asian Championship with a 106-66 victory over a talented but overmatched Chinese Taipei side.
Miela Goodchild led the way for the Australians with 27 points and 10 rebounds, whilst Isobel Anstey also picked up a double-double.
Despite playing a far stronger opponent than they had faced the previous day, the Gems’ offence instantly looked more polished as Sam Simons earned a trip to the line on the very first possession of the game, converting both free throws. This was followed up by a three from Miela Goodchild as the Australians sought to make amends for their 3 of 24 performance from beyond the arc against Indonesia. Chinese Taipei kept pace in the early stages though, with Chen Yu-Chieh burying a trio of early threes in a high-scoring start to the contest.
The struggles from close range that had plagued the Gems at times against Indonesia threatened to transpire in the first quarter of this game, with Chinese Taipei compensating for their lack of height by defending in a zone and ensuring that no Australian player would find an opening around the basket. But as had happened the previous afternoon, the Gems managed to grab some steals late in the opening term and convert those into fast-break lay-ups and take a 35-23 lead into the second term.
Chinese Taipei continued to use the three-ball to their advantage, knocking down their sixth and seventh of the contest early in the second quarter, but it was merely a means of keeping the margin from ballooning out as the Gems continued to stifle their opponents from close range and pushed the pace at every opportunity. With Chinese Taipei reverting to a man defence, opportunities in the paint began to open up, with Goodchild and Anstey taking advantage as both moved into double-digits as the margin crept towards the 20-point mark midway through the quarter.
The Chinese Taipei side had their moments as the first half wound to its conclusion. Yet too often an incisive pass or smart move was followed by something far less impressive, culminating in 18 turnovers for the Gems’ opponents by halftime. Whilst the Gems also turned the ball over 10 times, their offensive rebounding and active defence saw the Australians finish the first half with 51 field goal attempts to 28 on their way to a 61-36 halftime lead.
A steal from Jazmin Shelley on the inbound pass to start the second half culminated in an and-one opportunity, but the Chinese Taipei side remained unperturbed despite the margin. Anstey picked up two quick fouls to head to the bench with four beside her name, and although Ashlee Hannan and Ula Motuga continued to provide plenty of size in the front court. Chinese Taipei seemed to have a renewed vigour about them, outscoring the Gems for a major portion of the third quarter as the Australians’ intensity slipped slightly, perhaps due to the margin which nudged the 30-point mark at one stage. A timeout late in the term seemed to switch the Australians back on, as evidenced by some outstanding passing on the break that set up Emma Clarke for a deep two from the corner in the final stages. It was a 23-21 quarter in the Gems’ favour to see the overall score move to 84-57.
The teams remained evenly matched in the early stages of the fourth quarter, due in part to a few scrappy possessions at either end. That was snapped briefly by some impressive ball movement late in the shot clock by the Gems to open up Isabel Palmer for a three. Yet a number of turnovers followed in quick succession before Chinese Taipei found their way to the line. Goodchild responded with a basket of her own, but the final term remained error-strewn at both ends until the final stages as the Gems made a final push towards the century mark. The triple figure score was brought up in the penultimate minute of the game courtesy of a pair of Kobe King-Hawea free throws, her first points of the game. Simons rounded out the victory with a corner three in the final seconds, with the basket taking the final score to 106-66, a margin that may appear a little unfair to a Chinese Taipei side that hung with the Australians both in the early going. But nonetheless showed evidence of the dominance that the Gems had enjoyed in large parts.
Goodchild was exemplary for the Gems, shooting at 55% on her way to 27 points and 10 rebounds as six players finished in double figures, including Palmer, Emma Clarke, Motuga, and Anstey, who tallied a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds. Shelley came within touching distance of a triple-double, tallying 11 points, 9 assists, and 8 rebounds, whilst Hannan led the team with 12 rebounds alongside her 7 points.
The team also vastly improved their free throw shooting, hitting 20 of 26 at the line compared to 19 of 31 against Indonesia, and also improved their three-point percentage from 12% the previous day to 27%. However the Gems also committed 24 turnovers, something that will surely not sit well with coach Dee Butler.
The win means that the Gems’ match on Tuesday against South Korea becomes a straight shootout for top spot in the group and direct World Cup qualification. A loss would mean that the Australians head into the semi-final qualifiers against the third-placed team in the opposite group, likely to be New Zealand at this stage. That game, along with all other Gems and Tall Ferns games, will be shown LIVE on The Pick and Roll’s Facebook page.
Australia 106 (Goodchild 27p, 10r; Palmer 14p, 4r; Motuga 12p, 4r) Chinese Taipei 66 (Chen Yu-Chieh 21p, 4r; Lin Chia-Jung 17p, 5s; Li Yi Hua 8p, 6r, 3a)
Gems’ FIBA Under 18 Women’s Asian Championship Schedule:
October 28: defeated Indonesia 96-28 October 29: defeated Chinese Taipei 106-66 October 30: vs Korea @ 4:30pm November 1: Classification Games and Semi-Final Qualifiers November 2: Semi-Finals November 3: Final