CANBERRA (Exhibition Game) - Australia’s under 19 women’s basketball team, the Gems, outclassed Japan’s national senior women’s side at the AIS Training Hall in Canberra overnight.
Japan is ranked 15th in the world in senior women’s competition.
Trailing by one point at half time, the Gems enforced a stranglehold on the Japanese offence, restricting them to just 17 second half points, three of which came on the buzzer.
The Gems, who were using the match as part of their preparation for July’s FIBA World Championship for Under 19 women, won the match by seven points, 66-59.
Pint sized point guard Nicole Hunt from Warrnambool in Victoria showed why the Australian Institute of Sport has her on scholarship, as she led the Gems with 13 points, 7 rebounds and 2 steals.
Adelaide’s Cayla Francis and Newcastle’s Katie Ebzery scored 11 points apiece in support.
Al Mitani posted 17 points, 8 rebounds and 5 steals to lead Japan, but scored only 3 of her points in the second half.
Both teams shot the ball well in the first half, successfully completing 50 per cent of their attempts, but after the main break the Gems took their defence to another level.
Australia’s big three, Francis, Marianna Tolo and Abby Bishop, combined well in the defensive keyway to rebound and initiate the Gems’ running game.
The Japanese could not respond and were outrun, out-muscled and outclassed by their younger opponents.
Japan has a chance for redemption, as the two teams face off again at 6 o’clock this evening at the AIS Training Hall.
Fans are granted free entry.
Immediately following the Gems v Japan game, Australia’s under 19 men’s team (The Emus) will take on the ex-AIS All-Stars.
The All-Stars team features Australia Post Boomers Brad Newley and Joe Ingles as well as NBL players Adam Gibson, Ryan Kersten, Rhys Carter and Graeme Dann.
AUSTRALIAN GEMS 66 – N Hunt 13, C Francis 11, K Ebzery 11
JAPAN 59 – A Mitani 17, Y Oga 13, N Sakakibara 10