It ended up being closer than it should be, but the Emus won 82-79 over Mali this morning.
Australia took a dominant early 12-0 lead with outside shooting, but Mali managed to stay close, using their size to score in the paint. The Emus however, continued to move the ball and find scoring opportunities with an inside-out rhythm.
The game was tied 75-75 with a minute to go, and continued to be a thrilling battle until Sean MacDonald drove, collapsed the Mali defence and found an open Sam Froling. Froling’s dagger three ultimately closed the game out, leaving only 2.3 seconds on the clock.
Mali’s Siriman Kanoute could not convert on a potential game tying shot, and left the W for Australia.
Australia’s Sean MacDonald scored 25 points on 9 of 15 shooting, which included hitting 5 of 9 three-pointers. The Kilsyth guard also grabbed 5 rebounds (2 offensive), and handed out 5 assists this game.
Outside of MacDonald, no other Emu scored in double-digits, but Keli Leaupepe made a huge contribution with 10 rebounds (3 offensive), which helped the Emus maintain a 52-41 rebounding advantage over Mali.
Mali had three double-digit scorers: Siriman Kanoute (17), Oumar Ballo (20), Abdoul Coulibaly (17).
Full box score can be found on FIBA’s website.
The Emus finish 2-1 in the group stage, second place in Group B. They play Lithuania next in the Round of 16 tonight – 4 July at 12:45 am AEST.