Australia have completed a successful tournament at the FIBA 3×3 Asia Cup with our men winning the bronze medal while our women took home gold after defeating Malaysia in the final.
The day started off with a Quarter-Final against Turkmenistan for the women and Australia were up against it early, trailing 5-7 as only Isabelle Bourne managed to have an impact on the scoreboard.
Sarah McAppion was able to utilise her advantage against the opposition point guard though, scoring back-to-back baskets including an and-one to push Australia ahead 11-9. Carlie Smith and Chantella Perera’s hustle on the glass also began to take it’s toll on Turkmenistan, allowing several second chance opportunities which gave Australia a game-high four-point lead halfway through the contest.
Bourne then recorded a huge block and a quick feed to Smith before McAppion’s relentless attack saw her score four in a row with Bourne finishing off the 21-17 victory in style.
The men took on China in their Quarter-Final and they were hot from the opening with Lucas Barker and Andrew Steel knocking down three shots from beyond the arc for a 6-0 start.
They also forced a shot clock violation on China but once the Chinese team settled, they were able to cut the score back to 6-5. Darcy Harding had the response with three points in a row, including another two-pointer while China continued to ignore Barker’s long-range game as he pushed the margin out to seven points.
A hand-off between Barker and Steel gave him another wide open two-pointer and then Owen Odigie finished the game off inside as Australia cruised to a 21-13 win.
It was a re-match of sorts for the women in their Semi-Final next, taking on China but in a reversal of the men’s game it was China who started with three quick two-pointers. Bourne remained active at the offensive end, cutting to the basket for some easy shots before Smith asserted herself on the boards to clean up three misses while she also knocked down a two of her own to make it a 10-12 game.
China stayed hot from deep but Australia continued to eat into the deficit, courtesy of Bourne who hit a lay-up through contact as well as another two-pointer to tie it up at 15-15. In a wild sequence, Perera then connected on the and-one play from an offensive rebound, Bourne recorded a huge block and McAppion followed up with a nice runner to help the Aussies advance to the gold medal game, succeeding 21-16.
The men took on host nation Mongolia in their Semi-Final and in front of a rabid crowd, Barker, Odigie and Steel all scored inside the first minute. Mongolia found themselves in foul trouble quickly in what was a physical contest but that style suited them and once they settled, they soon moved ahead 8-4.
Odigie answered with a rim-rocking dunk but Australia struggled to get the stops at the defensive end, trailing 7-11 halfway through the contest.
A spectacular two minutes of play from Barker seemed to spark Australia though as he hit three two-pointers while setting up Odigie for the alley-oop to tie the game with 2:30 left.
Going back and forth in the dying stages, Mongolia moved in front by two but Steel banged home an incredible shot from beyond the arc, sending the game into overtime at 17 apiece. In overtime, a team needed to win by two and while Australia had several chances from long range to clinch the contest, their shots just would not fall and Mongolia finally finished it with a turnaround jumper, winning 17-19.
Having to bounce back from that disappointment just an hour later, the Aussie men took on Kazakhstan for the bronze medal but they were on song defensively, holding their opponents scoreless for the first minute. Steel then hit back-to-back two’s and Harding took it strong to the rim, giving Australia a 10-3 lead before Steel continued his hot shooting with another two baskets from long distance as the Aussies took complete control with a nine-point edge.
Kazakhstan would not give in and a couple of late two-pointers as well as an and-one trimmed the margin to one point with two minutes remaining but Odigie responded with a dunk before Barker fed him out of a nice pick and roll to secure a 21-18 victory and the bronze medal.
Rounding out the day, the Australian women faced Malaysia and Smith got the team going with their first three points while Smith and Bourne set the defensive tone with two blocks as well.
Bourne then connected on the and-one play to give Australia a healthy 7-2 buffer and Perera kept the scoreboard ticking over with a strong take to keep Malaysia at arm’s length despite the opposition finding their range on a couple of two-pointers. Bourne then scored another and-one, overpowering Malaysia to make it a 12-7 game and while Malaysia were getting shots to fall, Australia had an answer every time, either through Perera from the free-throw line or via Bourne and Smith’s pull-ups.
Following a made free-throw from Malaysia, Perera then leaked out beyond the arc and swished the final shot to ensure a 21-15 victory and a gold medal for Australia at their first ever 3×3 Asia Cup.
Capping off the incredible tournament, Bourne was named the tournament MVP for the women while Lucas Barker made the men’s All-Tournament five.