Winless after a fifth consecutive loss to Team USA, the Australian women’s wheelchair basketball team is putting their learnings into action ahead of Tokyo 2020.
The Gliders went down to the Paralympic champions today 73-53, but despite the heavy loss, Gliders Head Coach David Gould believes the game play showed plenty of encouraging signs of the team’s future potential.
“It’s been a good game for us. Team USA are a really good team, and they played really good basketball today. We had a disastrous game a couple of days ago and we’ve been able to turn that around, ato come out here and execute what we did at training, I thought we did a really good job,” Gould said.
The Gliders started game five strong, with Annabelle Lindsay (4.5) scoring the first points. The two teams managed to level up, finishing the quarter 16-16. But despite their best efforts, the Gliders were unable to fight back in the following quarters, with USA setting the tone for the rest of the game with their fierce offensive pressure.
Having fallen down in the world rankings since their last Paralympic appearance at London 2012, the Gliders were always going to have their weaknesses exposed during the series but Gould is most impressed by the work ethic shown by each of the Gliders.
“The vibe here today has been quite good and it’s evident that the girls have worked hard. They understand where they are at, at the moment and understand our group and where we have to get to,” he said.
“It’s a whole new look team now and one of the things we really, really have to improve on is the defense and we need to keep teams to 50 points or less. The weakness is just that and it’s clear to the girls.”
With just four points scored from turnovers and shooting percentage of 37.1, compared to Team USA’s 73 per cent accuracy also highlighted another area for the Australian side to improve.
“Obviously we should be shooting in the mid 40s or above, so there’s still a lot of work to do on that,” Gould said.
“We’re working hard towards 2020, but also 2024.”
London 2012 Paralympian Amber Merritt (4.5) was the stand out player on the Australian side, scoring 14 points and 7 rebounds, while Annabelle Lindsay (4.5) and Georgia Munro-Cook (4.5) each adding 9 points to the board. Low point player Hannah Dodd (1.0) also impressed scoring 8 points, one rebound and one assist.
“The aim for tomorrow is to continue working our defence, continue working on our new offensive play and re-assess from there.”
The Gliders will play their final match against Team USA tomorrow at 9am at Basketball Australia’s Centre of Excellence, located at the Australian Institute of Sport.
By Sascha Ryner, Parlaympics Australia Media
Photo: Sport Australia