GLIDERS HEADED INTO CONTINENTAL CLASH SEMI-FINALS

GLIDERS HEADED INTO CONTINENTAL CLASH SEMI-FINALS

The Australian Gliders have completed the group stage of the 2017 Continental Clash with a 2-1 record and will now head into a Semi-Final clash against Germany for a chance to play off for gold.

Arriving in England directly from a tournament in Germany where they placed third, the Gliders faced two games on the opening day of the Continental Clash against the Germans and and Great Britain.

Jumping out to an 11-point lead at quarter-time, Australia took control of their first clash against Germany.

However, their opposition fought back to only trail by one at the final change and with just 23 seconds remaining, Germany moved ahead by three points.

Cobi Crispin (28 points, 11 rebounds, five assists) responded though with a quick basket out of a time-out before Amber Merritt (28 points, nine boards, three steals) sent the game into overtime with a buzzer-beater on a dish from Leanne Del Toso (six points, five rebounds).

Merritt then got the Aussies started in the extra period and they reeled off the first seven points to clinch a 73-67 victory in an impressive showing of intensity down the stretch before calm composure got the job done in overtime.

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Later that day, the Gliders faced Great Britain who had placed fourth at Rio but another strong opening saw Australia lead by two at quarter-time.

They continued to push the hosts all game but a 10-19 final term finally saw Great Britain claim the win.

Crispin again led all scorers with 23 points and she finished the day on 24-35 shooting (69%).

Well supported by fellow starters Sarah Vinci and Ella Sabljak, the Gliders also received a spark from Annabelle Lindsday and Bree Mellberg who saw some court time.

In the final game of the group stage, Australia took on Japan but were in unfamiliar territory at the first change as they trailed 14-21.

Crispin (24 points, 13 boards, ten assists) and Merritt (21 points, seven rebounds, three steals) turned their fortunes around in the second period, combining for 16 points and with Georgia Munro-Cook (eight points) and Del Toso (six points) chipping in, the Gliders moved ahead by seven inside the final three minutes.

Japan had one last run left in them, led by WNWBL player Mari Amimoto (16 points, nine rebounds, nine assists) and they scored seven straight points to tie the match with 40 seconds left.

Merritt answered with a basket though and the Aussies then recorded a stop at the other end with Sarah Vinci pulling down the rebound before she secured a 67-65 win from the free-throw line.

Great Britain, Germany and Australia all finished the group stage with a 2-1 record but due to the overall head-to-head results, Australia will finish third which sets up a Semi-Final clash against Germany tonight.

Great Britain will take on Japan in the other Semi-Final with the two victors playing off for the gold medal on Friday night.

Tip-off for the Semi-Finals are 8pm and 12.30am tonight (AEST) with Friday's bronze medal game scheduled for 8pm before the gold medal game commences at 12.30am (AEST).

British Wheelchair Basketball have been streaming some games of the tournament via their Facebook page here.

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