The Junior Tall Ferns (JTF’s) were well beaten by Australia in the gold medal game at the FIBA U18 Oceania Championships in Suva on Saturday. Australia led from start to finish to claim the championship with a 107-52 victory.
Australia made a strong start establishing an early 11-5 lead, the Junior Tall Ferns only scores were courtesy of Akiene Reed and Alyssa Hirawani at the free throw line.
The game was seven minutes old before the JTF’s scored their first basket from the field from Charlisse Leger-Walker but Australia were 21-8 to the good at that stage.
Australia made a brace of threes to finish the period and led 28-9 at quarter time.
Leger-Walker scored with a neat drive and Kendall Heremaia landed a long three but the Australian lead had ballooned out to 41-15 at the five minute mark in the second period.
Reed and Jillings made further scores but the JTF’s were in a hole at half time trailing 49-20.
Australian centre Ezi Magbegor, the leading rebounder in the tournament, was dominating in the paint and had 7 points, 6 rebounds and an intimidating 4 blocks at the interval. Leger-Walker was the best of the Kiwis with 6 points and 4 rebounds.
Charlotte Whittaker, Jayden Fuiava and Leger-Walker scored as the JTF’s exchanged baskets in the early stages of the second half but Australia finished the third period with a 13-4 run to lead 78-36 at the final break.
To their credit the JTF’s out scored the Australians in the early minutes of the final period as Jillings, Whittaker and Leger-Walker found the hoop. However it was too little too late as Australia eased to a 107-52 win and a trip to the U19 World Championships in Cairo next year.
Junior Tall Ferns 52 Australia 107
NZ Leading scorers – Leger-Walker 12, Whittaker 8, Jillings 7, Reed 5, Heremaia 5
Congratulations to Christchurch referee Matt Bathurst was one of the three referees officiating the gold medal game.