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New Zealand meet Australia in Youth World Championships Final
An explosive semifinal saw Jamaica make a real threat to New Zealand, nearly cutting their tournament journey short.
Jamaica left everything out there on the court as they played the game of their lives against four-time finalists New Zealand.
It was Jamaica who got the better start. Just minutes after the game started they lead 3-0, and that's where they stayed for the majority of the quarter, just being tipped by New Zealand in the last moments to enter the second quarter 15-16 down.
From there it looked as if New Zealand had found their mojo as they entered the second quarter and turned it around for themselves. The defence picked up their game and restricted the Jamaican shooters to just four goals, whilst their own shooters were on a mission to bring them back up, concluding with a nine goal spree to take them into a healthy lead of 12.
But that quarter saw a devastating turn of events for the Jamaicans. Star shooter Shantal Slater made an athletic leap into the air but moments later let out a piercing scream as she collapsed onto the floor in agony. She was removed from the court, but left a gaping hole in the Jamaican side- they were now more vulnerable than ever.
Yet the Jamaicans found it deep within themselves to push on, and they emerged back onto the court more determined than ever. Amazingly they ate away at the New Zealanders score and after a phenomenal quarter entered the final break 38-37 up.
New Zealand had their work cut out if they wanted to secure themselves a place in the final, and they stepped up to the mark. Right from the outset their determination gained them the possession they required and they converted it into a 53-44 win.
Head coach Oberon Pitterson Nattie was devastated for her girls, but was impressed with their commitment to the game.
"I'm extremely proud I could kiss all of them. They played like it was their last."
"They fought to the finish and that's what I'm happy for."
New Zealand now progress to the final to face reigning champions Australia, and they know what to expect. Te Paea Selby-Ricket thinks it'll be like the Jamaican game "but 10 times harder", with coach Janine Southby adding they'll "Just bring what they always bring- their dogged determination, physicality and speed."