Australia Win FIBA U15 Oceania Championship
MANGILAO (Guam) – Australia is the FIBA U15 Oceania Champions after a close encounter with New Zealand in the gold medal match at the FIBA U15 Oceania Championships.
New Zealand stayed in touch with throughout the first half, heading into half time trailing by just six. Pushing in offence and holding solid in defence, New Zealand had a strong game plan to play tight and keep fouls to a minimum.
Australia looked to have everything under control until the final quarter when New Zealand stepped up their offensive game to tie the scores. But in the dying stages, Australia remained composed with some clutch shots and intense defence sealing the win.
Ryder Cheesman, Nash Walker, and Harrison Beauchamp were all sensational with Beauchamp finishing with 18 points, 15 rebounds and 3 assists.
“It was a pretty intense game, I loved it and it was a really good game, that's what we play for," Beauchamp said. "Our main focus for the week was good defence, if you don't play good defence we would be on the bench, so defence was priority, and it would then flow on to offence.
Commenting on his first international tournament, Beauchamp said, "It's really tough, lots of training and you have to stay really focused and defence is the big part of winning the championship."
For New Zealand Merrick Rillstone, Oscar Goodman and Hayden James were equally impressive to take home silver.
Guam was hungry for their first FIBA U15 Oceania Championship, medal holding off Samoa, 78-69 to secure their spot on the podium.
For the host nation, Noah Hernandez impressed again, leading from the front with William Aisek and Noah Cruz doing their bit to bring Team Guam home.
“It was a good game, we started strong, and Samoa came out in the second half and brought it, we weren’t ready for that so when the fourth quarter came, we knew we had to turn it up for the bronze," Cruz said. “At the start of training with this team we were just a bunch of individuals with big heads, but as we got closer to this tournament, we knew we had to start playing as a team.”
Samoa was strong throughout the match with Dahtanian Okesene, Mason Liva and Bailey Noora all making significant contributions.
In the final classification match of the tournament, Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Northern Mariana Islands (NMI) put on a show prior to the medal matches showing how close the two nations are on the basketball court.
PNG prevailed, 69-68 with Isaac Kimbu sinking two free throws in the final 10 seconds to secure the win. Grant Bray, Daniel Nou and Noah Yangomina all performed well for PNG to guide their team to victory.
“It was tough, it’s been a long tournament, personally the whole team has injuries everywhere ... it was hard but I’m happy we came away with the win,” Yangomina said.
“The highlight for me, I’m what the team needs me to be, and they needed me to step up, and I think I came up clutch for them today. We didn’t go all the way but at least we shown Oceania that we are a contender.
“Representing my country and my family, my grandfather player national basketball too, so it has been an honour to play for and represent PNG.”
NMI were tough with solid performances from Christian Lucero and Lance Lerio keeping the team in touch during tense moments of the game.
Australia and New Zealand will both advance to the next stage of the FIBA U17 World Championship pathway, which will be the FIBA U16 Asian Championships 2023.