Australia’s Gems have opened their Under 18 Asian Championship campaign on a winning note, dominating for 40 minutes in a 96-28 demolition of Indonesia.
Despite shooting a mediocre 37% from the field, 40 offensive rebounds and 26 steals paved the way for the extreme margin of victory, with Isobel Anstey leading the way with 20 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 steals.
Although the Australians put together a 23-2 opening quarter, it took them a while to find their rhythm on offence. Whilst stopping the overmatched Indonesian side at the other end proved to be no issue, the Gems hit just four of their opening 15 field goal attempts, enduring a two-minute scoreless streak midway through the opening term after an 11-0 run to start the game.
However the latter stages of the second quarter saw the Australian defence not just stop the Indonesian side, but create fast-break opportunities for the Gems. A number of steals late in the term led to a flurry of quick lay-ups, with Agnes Emma-Nnopu the chief protagonist. With the Gems completely suffocating the Indonesian offence, five consecutive made baskets off steals to end the quarter delivered a 23-2 advantage and vastly improved the Gems’ shooting stats to 9-of-20 after a term.
The size and athleticism of the Australian team made for a number of second-chance opportunities to open the second quarter, but the shots still refused to fall for the most part. The Gems added just five more points to their total in the opening four minutes of the term, however as was the case in the first quarter, the Australians found their groove as the period continued. Some less than perfect free throw shooting kept the scoreboard from ticking over as quickly as it could have, but nonetheless a barnstorming end to the first half saw the lead balloon out to 44-12 by halftime.
Two baskets early in the third quarter had Indonesia looking slightly livelier after the main break, and they certainly did everything in their power to clog up the paint on defence and make it as tough as possible for the Gems to score from close range. But with Anstey going to work and Jazmin Shelley taking advantage of the extra space on the perimeter, the Australian lead continued to grow throughout the early stages of the third quarter.
Some pretty passing between Emma-Nnopu and Hannan on the break showed a glimpse of the cohesion that the Gems will be looking to develop as the tournament progresses. The latter knocked down a three on a day that baskets from outside were generally hard to come by for the Australians, as the lead extended past the 40-point mark. A couple of missed lay-ups late in the term will not have impressed coach Dee Butler, but nonetheless the Gems took a 67-21 lead into the final quarter.
A 10-0 Gems run to start the final term saw Indonesia call a timeout with seven minutes to play, but it could have been even worse if not for some missed lay-ups from the Australians that they would be expected to make more often than not. However, Anstey was solid for much of the contest, eventually finishing with game-highs of 20 points and 12 rebounds as the Gems rolled in the final minutes to round out a 96-28 victory following a 29-7 final term against a clearly tiring Indonesian side.
Alongside Anstey’s team-leading performance, Emma-Nnopu added 12 points and 7 rebounds, with Hannan, Emma Clarke and Miela Goodchild also finishing in double figures. Samantha Simons made up for a lacklustre 2-of-14 shooting performance by grabbing 10 rebounds alongside her 7 points, with Isabel Palmer and Shelley also grabbing 8 boards.
The Gems will take on Korea in their second game, with a win putting the Gems in pole position to top their group and directly qualify not only for the semi-finals, but for next year's Under 19 World Cup. That game, along with all other Gems and Tall Ferns games, will be shown LIVE on The Pick and Roll’s Facebook page.
Australia 96 (Anstey 20p, 12r, 4s; Emma-Nnopu 12p, 7r, 5s, 3b; Clarke 11p, 3r) Indonesia 28 (Sholmah 8p, 4r; Aoijs 4p, 3r; Latifah 4p)
October 28: defeated Indonesia 96-28 October 29: vs Chinese Taipei @ 4:30pm October 30: vs Korea @ 4:30pm November 1: Classification Games and Semi-Final Qualifiers November 2: Semi-Finals November 3: Final