The Australian Rollers have had a positive start on their road to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, with back-to-back victories over South Korea and Thailand at the 2019 International Wheelchair Basketball Federation Asia-Oceania Championships.

The Rollers were off to a slow start in their first game of the tournament, with Korea taking an early 6-2 lead. However, the Australians were able to fight forward and had a 12-point lead by the first break.

Shaun Norris, Tom O’Neill-Thorne and Bill Latham were the early standouts, with strong offence.

The second quarter saw Head Coach Craig Friday change the line-ups and rotations, but this proved to be a battle for the Rollers, and Korea took the quarter. But with the help of some exciting energy from rookie CJ McCarthy-Grogan, the Australians kept their lead to 11 points.

The third term saw the game get physical with some big hits from both teams. The Rollers extended their lead to 12 points at three-quarter-time, setting up for an interesting fourth quarter.

The final quarter was a tough one, but the Rollers were able to stay strong and keep their lead, securing their win at 58-46. Latham was the difference, with his impressive mid-range game collecting 20 points and five rebounds.

Head Coach Craig Friday said it was good to get everyone through the game.

“We were a bit rusty, but it was good to get a solid hit-out,” Friday said. “Definitely a good start to our campaign.”

In their second game, led by Norris, the Australians pushed out to a 19-9 lead at quarter-time.

Latham was also influential, and Kim Robins’ strong form caused Thailand some concern.

The second quarter saw the Rollers start to lose their defensive pressure, with Head Coach Craig Friday making some deep rotations.

McCarthy-Grogan and Brett Stibners provided the team with lift in offense, and despite some unforced errors, the Australians kept their lead at half-time, 18 points ahead of the home side.

Thailand continued to push and play hard in the third quarter, but with Robins and Norris dominating the Rollers’ offence, the Australians were able to head into the final quarter with a 24-point lead.

Solid court time for the Rollers saw a drop in intensity, but a late fightback from the home side was not enough, and the Australians were able to secure their second win in two days, finalising the scores at 71-48.

Results – 2019 IWBF Asia-Oceania Championships
Game 1 First Quarter Half-time Third Quarter Full-time
Australia 23 36 48 58
Korea 11 25 36 46
Game 2 First Quarter Half-time Third Quarter Full-time
Australia 19 39 61 71
Thailand 9 21 37 48

By Basketball Australia
Posted: 02/12/2019
Photo with thanks to MSSP Michael Schwartz / Uli Gasper