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AUS/JPN - Dreaded Roberts plunders Japanese mosquito fleet
PUERTO MONTT (2011 FIBA U19 World Championship for Women) - The scoreboard read Australia 92 Japan 83 at the end of their Quarter Final at the FIBA U19 World Championship for Women, but Tayla Roberts really should have gotten a mention in there somewhere.
The 191cm powerhouse put her country on her shoulders and carried them to victory over a remarkable Japanese team, who refused to give in despite their massive size disadvantage.
The Asian silver medallists shot the ball at nearly 50% for most of the first half and led by one point at the long break. At that point Roberts stepped in, and the result was as much a surprise to her as anyone. "I can't believe it" the elated 18 year old said.
"I've scored 40 points before (at national championships) but not 41, ansd this is a big level up so I can't believe it."
Roberts sealed her smaller opponents time and again in the paint and finished superbly, scoring 16 points in the third quarter and 10 in the final period as Australia took the ascendency and held off every Japanese charge.
Roberts finished with a career high 41 points and 17 rebounds, undoubtedly the individual performance of the tournament.
She gave thanks to her teammates. "They threw some great passes, they fed me really well and I couldn't be happier with everyone's work tonight," she said. "We wanted this so bad, it just worked out for us tonight."
Australia coach Cheryl Chambers said she was expecting a performance like this from her centre, known in the team as 'Tay'. "Tayla had a truckload but that was due to everyone else doing their job so she could operate," she said.
"We structure our things around her because she is such a strong player. I think we have still got some other weapons, but tonight it was Tay, and most nights it's going to be Tay."
Next, Roberts faces a rematch with Spain and the in-form Astou Ndour, and Chambers thinks her centre will be up for the challenge. "I think last time Tay(la) would be a bit disappointed with her effort against the big girl," she said.
"I think this a good chance for her to come back and try something a bit different against her."
Roberts is looking forward to it. "I played her the other night, she's a great player and she runs the floor hard," she said. "She is really tall and has a nice shot so Ill have to try and stop her from getting her little jumpers up, and try and cover her when she's running the floor.