The Australian Rollers’ quest for three straight World Championships gold medals has come to an end with a 59-84 loss to the USA in the semi-finals.
While the USA were the better team on the day, the scoreline ultimately flattered them with the Rollers taking the contest right up to the Rio 2016 gold medallists throughout the game.
However, Australia could not get enough stops at the defensive end with the Americans winning every quarter while shooting 57% from the field and also hitting 4-8 from the three-point line.
The Rollers set the pace early with captain Shaun Norris scoring four points in a 6-0 run to open the game.
He also drilled a three and had nine points by the first break but once the USA saw the ball drop a couple of times, they were highly efficient and took a five-point edge into quarter-time.
They then scored the first five points of the second period to push the margin out to double-digits.
Norris (14 points, three assists) did his best to reel in the deficit, knocking down his second three-pointer of the game and Tristan Knowles (seven points, three rebounds, four assists) followed suit, coming off the bench to play some strong minutes.
The Rollers were powerless to stop the USA at the other end of the floor though with the Americans shooting 55% to half-time and showcasing their impressive speed in transition as well as strength across their line-ups.
Australia’s game-play was improved out of half-time as they strung together a couple of baskets and stops but while the deficit dropped to single-digits momentarily, their success was short-lived.
The Rollers’ aggressive play found them in foul trouble and the USA took advantage from the free-throw line to create a comfortable lead again.
One last push in the fourth quarter saw Jannik Blair (eight points) bank in a lay-up and Matt McShane (four points, one assist) hit the scoreboard but the USA had an answer every time and went on to consolidate a comfortable victory.
Despite giving up a 14-0 advantage in fast break points and being out-scored 10-0 from the free-throw line, Australia had 11 players record a basket and 10 players tally an assist to prove their depth.
The Rollers will now face the loser of the other semi-final between Iran and Great Britain at 9:15pm AEST on Sunday night as they aim to extend their streak to four consecutive medals at the IWBF World Championships.
The Australian Rollers Schedule for the 2018 IWBF World Championships (all times AEST):
August 17: Rollers vs. Argentina (W 74-55)
August 18: Rollers vs. Spain (W 66-56)
August 20: Rollers vs. Netherlands (L 53-58)
August 21: Rollers cross-over game vs. Brazil (W 73-54)
August 23: Rollers vs. Poland in quarter-final (W 83-70)
August 24: Rollers vs. USA in semi-final (L 59-84)
August 26: Rollers bronze medal at 9:15pm AEST vs. Iran or Great Britain
By Basketball Australia
Photo with thanks to MSSP Michael Schwartz / Uli Gasper