Quarter Final: Asia Pacific v Mexico Boys
After a day of service with NBA Cares where they joined over 300 athletes in assisting in the construction of a local park in Orlando the Eltham boys were ready to get back on the court.
In a similar way to the NBA All-Star Weekend, the night of their off day was spent with all the athletes competing with Joshua Weddle and Zahn Agosta proudly representing their club, and Asia Pacific in the Jr. NBA skills challenge, among many talented athletes from across the globe.
The following day was the beginning of bracket play for the Jr. NBA World Championships with the Eltham Wildcats facing Mexico for their spot in the international bracket Semi-Finals.
Asia Pacific would face Mexico who had struggled through the tournament have not obtained a victory through the three games of pool play. Eltham, who finished first in their pool, made no mistake coming away with a commanding 60 point victory, 77-17.
From the beginning the Wildcats pressed full-court, double teaming Mexico's primary option to keep the ball out of his hands. This tactic proved very successful, as the Wildcats amassed a flurry of steals in a very short period of time.
The pressure from the Eltham boys proved too much in the first quarter and with four minutes left in the term they led Mexico by 23 points.
Coach Craig Stratford looked to his bench, who continued to apply pressure to the team from Mexico as the Wildcats quickly established a dominant lead putting the result beyond doubt by the end of the first.
Not only were the Wildcats controlling the transition game but also using their size to control the glass. In total Eltham would win the rebounding contest 48 - 13 and force 30 opposition turnovers, a truly overpowering stat line.
“The boys defensively did a good job of protecting the rim and causing some turnovers” said Coach Stratford following their victory.
I thought we moved the ball well today, created a lot of open shots and the boys finished those which was good.”
With the final score 77-17, all players would hit the scoreboard.
Key players included Henry Way with nine points, 13 rebounds, four steals and Josh Weddle, who scored 13, assisted with three buckets and stole the ball five times.
The victory means that the Wildcats progress to the semi-final where they meet Canada, who beat South America by nine in later in the day. With contrasting styles this will be the toughest game for the Asia Pacific Boys.
When asked about the tough match-up in the Semi-Final Coach Stratford said that “they’re going to be a really tough team, they’ve been competitive the whole way though the tournament so far.”
“They’ve got some really good athletes so it’s really just a great challenge for the boys, the kind of team you want to play if you come over.”
— Jr. NBA (@jrnba) August 10, 2018
Semi-Final - Asia Pacific v Canada Boys: Sunday August 12th, 1:15am AEST
Quarter Final - Asia Pacific v Africa & Middle East Girl
The Bulleen Boomers were led by Tess Heal in the Jr. NBA Skills Challenge as they wrapped up their off day among over 300 other participants, before setting their sights on their Quarter Final against the team representing Africa and the Middle East.
After having only narrowly lost to Canada in pool play, Africa and Middle East were not going to be an easy match-up for the Bulleen Girls. Amisyn Leigh set the tone of the game early for the Asia Pacific girls knocking down a three for the first points of the game and the Aussies never looked back taking out a solid 65-24 victory.
The hot shooting of the Bulleen girls would continue as Leigh and Heal would both knock down shots from long range to extend their lead early into the first quarter.
When asked if the team had done anything different to impact their scoring Coach Travis Heal said that they “did a session this morning, so we went in and worked purely on shooting.”
“I think also offensively we’re starting to gel again, we haven’t played together for ten months and that’s our fourth game together in a week so we’re starting to feel good.”
Heal’s shooting session did indeed pay off with the Asia Pacific girls hitting an incredible 50% of shots from deep, with Leigh and Heal combining for eight of ten threes with four each.
Defensively the Boomers were able to finish possessions strongly, out-rebounding their opposition 35-16 as their size proved too much for the Africa and Middle East girls.
“I thought we played really well, worked as a team, we moved the ball and moved back in transition really well” said sharpshooter Amisyn Leigh said.
The team’s defence was an emphasis for the game from Coach Heal as they were directed to shut down their oppositions most effective scorers, which worked as the girls only gave up 24 points for the entire game, including limiting Africa and the Middle East to only one shot from deep, courtesy of Amar Mohamed Ziad Mansour.
The Bulleen Boomers will now face Canada in the Semi-Finals, who are undefeated through the tournament.
While this is a big challenge facing the girls, Tabitha Betson was nonchalant when asked about the upcoming commonwealth matchup.
“I think that if we work together as a team, run our plays and listen to Trav we’ll be fine.”
— Jr. NBA (@jrnba) August 10, 2018
Semi-Final - Asia Pacific v Canada: Sunday August 12th, 12:00am