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AUS - Aussie boys and girls win basketball gold

SYDNEY (AYOF) - A standing room only crowd at the Sydney Uni Sports Aquatic Centre witnessed an epic men's Gold Medal basketball match tonight with Australia overcoming China in the second half to take victory by 16 points.

Trailing by nine after one quarter and six at half time, Australia engineered a thrilling 49-27 second half effort and fully deserved to take home the hardware.

Tasmania's Hugh Greenwood starred for Australia with an equal game high 27 points on 12-of-20 shooting while starting point guard Jackson Aldridge ran the team well and finished with 20 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists. Hongfei Shi led China with 27 points on 7-of-17 three point shooting.

Swing man Anthony Drmic had 12 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists in a solid game while starting centre Sam Rowley posted 11 points and an equal game-high 8 rebounds against an imposing Chinese front line.

"At half time we just said to the guys one of our goals was forty minutes of putting our foot on their throat and to keep running out of transition," Australia's head coach Paul Goriss said.

"The score that they [Japan] had at half time we weren't happy with.and we overran them with our transition.

"We came here knowing that it was going to be tough in the final against China and they came out with some different things but we got over the line."

Emitting unbridled pride in his team, Goriss also made special mention of the home crowd's impact on his side and the result.

"They were the ones that lifted us over the line. We were down and when we started to make that run the roar from the crowd really got the guys pumped up and going. It's great playing at home."

Australia's victory was its fourth from four games at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival after wins against New Zealand, China and Japan in the preliminary rounds.

China scored the first four points of the match before Anthony Drmic finished a three-point play to get Australia underway in a frenetic opening minute.

China's furious man-to-man defence was causing problems and after scores were tied at 17 with 1:14 remaining China put on an 11-2 run, including a Hongfei Shi running three-pointer as the buzzer sounded, to take a 28-19 lead into the first break.

Drmic nailed a jump shot to open the second but China was soon on the run again before Jackson Hussey nailed Shang Gao in the front court and the teams went toe-to-toe to assert their domination.

The crowd was in a frenzy after the scuffle, cheering every call that went Australia's way, and the boys in green and gold harnessed the energy to put on a run over the next four minutes that erased the lead and tied the scores at 37.

China called time out and regrouped to put on a terrific outburst that quickly saw them up by eleven points before Greenwood took the game into his own hands and scored ten straight points including a three-pointer as the half time hooter sounded.

Greenwood had 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting at half time but was matched by Chinese forward Shang Gao after his 13 second quarter points. Both teams shot at 50 per cent in a half of basketball befitting the event.

China opened the second half with an air ball but had soon amassed a 6-0 run before Rowley finished close to the bucket to end Australia's mini drought, followed by four points from Trist and a three-pointer from Aldridge that forced China into a time out with the score 61-58 after five minutes of play.

When Jackson Hussey threw down a two handed dunk after a steal the crowd was deafening but it only got louder when Aldridge tied the scores at 61 with a free throw with 3:21 remaining in the period.

China began to settle for the outside shot as time ticked away in the third and when Hussey athletically tipped in Greenwood's miss for the game's third buzzer beater from three quarters of play Australia had its first lead, 67-65.

Shi sent a shiver through the huge Chinese contingent in the crowd when he went down clutching his knee in the opening minute of the final quarter, only to get up and nail a three-pointer with a hand in his face to send them into raptures.

Greenwood drained a running teardrop in response and the tension was thicker than a Beijing fog as Australia clung to its tiny lead and the crowd rode every play.

Rowley became a huge presence in the paint, Wroe finished an electric drive and when China called a time out with 6:05 remaining Australia was out by seven points, 75-68.

Forward Mingxin Ju hit a purple patch for China and the margin was back to three before Aldridge hit a clutch three pointer and Drmic was fouled as the ball went through the net leading to two foul shots in a quick five point swing that was a dagger in China's heart.

When Greenwood finished a lay-up and Aldridge drained two free throws the margin was out to ten and Australia looked certain winners.

One final run from China was negated and as the buzzer sounded and the full house rose to its feet in appreciation the young Australians celebrated a victory they'll not forgot.

AUS: Aldridge, Greenwood, Drmic, Rowley, Trist
CHN: Shi, Shan, Wang, Ju, Li M

Quarter by quarter:
1: CHN 28 AUS 19
H: CHN 55 AUS 49 (27-30)
3: AUS 67 CHN 65 (18-10)
F: AUS 98 CHN 82 (31-17)

AUSTRALIA 98 - Hugh Greenwood 27, Jackson Hussey 20, Anthony Drmic 12 bt
CHINA 82 - Hongfei Shi 27, Shang Gao 21, Mingxin Zhu 16
Gold Medal Match
Australian Youth Olympic Festival
at Sydney Uni Sports Aquatic Centre

Australia's young women's basketball team overpowered Japan this afternoon to claim the Gold Medal at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival in Sydney.

Australia used its superior size and speed to outgun and outrun its Japanese opponent to lead 51-18 at half time before continuing on to a 37-point victory.

The 91-54 win maintained Australia's unbeaten tournament run with preliminary round wins against New Zealand, China and Japan by 50, 17 and 28 points.

Starting guard Rebecca Cole completed a first rate tournament with 17 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists to lead Australia while crowd favourite Gretel Tippett had a fantastic all-around game to finish with 16 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals and 2 blocks. Naho Miyoshi and Aya Tsurumi paced Japan with 10 points apiece.

Reserve forwards Rebecca Allen and Allyson Brown were outstanding off the bench for Australia. Allen compiled 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting, a game high 15 rebounds and 3 steals in 19 minutes on court while Brown had 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting with 5 rebounds in 13 minutes on court.

"It was a great win and something the girls deserved," Australia's head coach Nicole Ireland said.

"They've been so focused and disciplined for nearly two weeks now with the camp and then the tournament and today I think we played the best game of our tournament; just team work, inside-outside play and our defence.

"It got a bit scrappy at the end but for three quarters or even more of that game we really stuck with what we needed to do defensively.

"They really got up for the Gold Medal game."

Tippett got Australia's scoring underway close to the basket in the opening minute before Aoi Katsura tied the score with a deft spin move in the paint. Brown came off the bench and hit her first three shots, Japan struggled against Australia's zone and after one period Australia led 25-9.

Australia's back court combination Cole and Kerryn Harrington had the team running beautifully in the second quarter and when Tippett blocked a shot and Jillian Haughton finished down the other end of the floor with a finger roll in traffic the rout was on.

Australia led 51-18 at half time behind Cole's 13 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists, Brown's 9 points off the bench and Tippett's 8 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks while Japan's pint sized offensive machine Aoi Katsuri had only 2 points on 1-of-5 shooting.

Japan scored the opening five points of the second half and looked ready to step up to the challenge at hand but Australia continued to push the ball and when a bone-jarring legal screen by Tippett cleaned up Asami Chiku in the back court the physical challenge was won.

Down by thirty-nine points with ten minutes to play, Japan continued to persevere until the inevitable end and won the last quarter by two points.


AUS: Harrington, Cole, Karaitiana, Tippett, Payne
CHN: Katsura, Chiku, Tsurumi, Nagaoka, Chikahira

Quarter by quarter:
1: AUS 25 JPN 9
H: AUS 51 JPN 18 (26-9)
3: AUS 71 JPN 32 (20-14)
F: AUS 91 JPN 54 (20-22)

AUSTRALIA 91 - Rebecca Cole 17, Gretel Tippett 16, Allyson Brown 14 bt
JAPAN 54 - Naho Miyoshi 10, Aya Tsurumi 10, Mika Nozoe 8
Gold Medal Match
Australian Youth Olympic Festival
at Sydney Uni Sports Aquatic Centre

Basketball Australia