The Australian Rollers have put together an exceptional second half to defeat Iran 68-57 and earn the bronze medal at the 2018 International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) Wheelchair Basketball World Championships.
Following a closely fought first half, Iran began to pull away in the opening minutes of the third term, and a few costly turnovers from Australia saw Iran pull ahead to a game-high six-point lead.
Tom O’Neill-Thorne (nine points, seven assists, two steals) was able to get the Aussies going with a long-range bomb, and that sparked Bill Latham (17 points, seven rebounds, six assists) and Jannik Blair (eight points, seven rebounds) to hit the scoreboard as well.
At the other end of the floor, the Australian defence was outstanding, and where Iran were getting open looks just a minute earlier, suddenly the Rollers were plugging every hole.
That tight defence also benefited their offensive game, and Kim Robins (10 points, two steals) was the recipient, leaking out for consecutive fast breaks to give Australia a double-digit lead at three-quarter-time.
Iran began to panic, and some hurried possessions early in the fourth term were quickly snuffed out.
The Australians continued to fire on all cylinders offensively, gifting Latham, O’Neill-Thorne and Shaun Norris (six points, five assists) easy lay-ups as the run extended to 25-1 and the Rollers had one hand on the bronze medal.
A couple of late three-pointers trimmed the deficit for Iran, but the damage had already been done. Australia clinched a convincing victory.
The bronze continues the Rollers’ incredible World Championships run, having earned a medal at each of the past four tournaments – including gold medals in 2010 and 2014.
Norris and Tristan Knowles (eight points, five assists) have been a part of every one of those sides, while it is Latham’s and Brett Stibners‘ (four points, four rebounds, four assists) third medal, and the second medal for Blair, O’Neill-Thorne and Luke Pople.
|Draw – 2018 IWBF Wheelchair Basketball World Championships|
|17 August||Rollers 74 def Argentina 55|
|18 August||Rollers 66 def Spain 56|
|20 August||Rollers 53 def by Netherlands 58|
|21 August||Rollers 73 def Brazil 54 / Cross-over game|
|23 August||Rollers 83 def Poland 70 / Quarter-final|
|24 August||Rollers 59 def by USA 84 / Semi-final|
|26 August||Rollers 68 def Iran 57 / Bronze medal game|
By Basketball Australia
Photo with thanks to MSSP Michael Schwartz / Uli Gasper