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Golden sweep for Australia at 2019 FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup

27 May 2019

3X3 BASKETBALL: Australia have claimed a golden sweep of the 2019 FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup, with the men winning back-to-back titles and the women earning redemption for their 2018 bronze medal.

Beginning their day against the Philippines in the quarterfinal, it took the Aussie women 80 seconds to get on the board as they found themselves down 1-4 early.

Alice Kunek had a significant height advantage under the rim though and she used it to her advantage before Bec Cole got her own game going with an and-one play.

Hanna Zavecz and Maddie Garrick then connected to give Australia a 5-4 lead. Philippines' two-point shooting kept the scoreline tight midway through the game but Kunek responded with a two-pointer of her own and then connected on another two-point play to move Australia in front 14-11.

She could not be stopped, going to score the last four points for Australia and finishing with 12 for the game as she clinched the 21-16 victory with an and-one.

Aiming to put the disappointment of last year's Semi-Final loss behind them, Australia then went up against Mongolia for a spot in the gold medal game.

Garrick and Cole kicked things off with attacking drives and offensive rebounds to help Australia to a 5-2 advantage but Mongolia replied with back-to-back two's to tie things up at 8-8 at the halfway point.

They continued to bomb away from long distance and had the momentum when they moved in front by two a minute later. Australia went to their high-low action in response, utilising the height of Kunek once again and with three minutes left, the scores were tied at 11-11.

Kunek began to take over from there, scoring four in a row and punishing Mongolia for some sloppy passes.

Garrick then caught fire from distance, drilling consecutive two's to give the Aussies a buffer and then Cole finished things off with another offensive rebound to clinch the 21-15 win.

In the gold medal game, Australia faced Kazakhstan. Despite having a player down, Kazakhstan advanced through the Semi-Final without a substitute and Australia were not going to take them lightly, stepping up their defensive pressure from the outset.

Cole had two early steals and Zavecz showed her defensive prowess with a nice block while a two-pointer from Garrick made it a perfect start from the Aussies.

Kazakhstan's length was a concern with Cole and Kunek unable to get drives to go but at the other end of the floor, Kazakhstan were getting no reward for effort as they had scored just two points in the first four minutes.

Zavecz and Garrick then connected to open up a 9-3 lead at the midway point and Cole's relentless attack eventually saw Kazakhstan yield.

Australia took full advantage of their lack of rotations and wore them down, running out 20-8 winners to claim redemption for 2018.

Battling Japan in the Quarter-Finals, the Aussie men were able to draw early fouls on their opponents but scores were still tied 3-3 after the opening minutes.

Greg Hire began to exert his influence under the rim, grabbing consecutive offensive rebounds off his own miss before he getting his shot to fall and then, courtesy of back-to-back buckets from Lucas Walker, Australia put together a 7-1 run.

Tim Coenraad then followed with a rare three-point play after he was fouled behind the arc and that gave Australia an 11-5 edge.

Japan went over the foul limit with still more than five minutes to play and Walker and Hire went to work, continually attacking the rim to make life difficult for their opponents.

Hire scored four in a row to put the game beyond doubt, answering a couple of late two's from Japan to clinch a comprehensive 21-14 win.

The men then came up against host nation China in the Semi-Final. Despite having a rowdy crowd behind them, China struggled to penetrate Australia's dogged defence and they managed just one point in the opening two minutes.

Tom Wright then added to their pain with a two-pointer but once China got into their running game, they were able to pile the points on and all of a sudden, they moved in front 6-5.

The teams traded baskets for the next two minutes as China continuously went to high-low passes but the deadlock was broken by Coenraad who stroked three two's in quick succession to break the game open.

Walker also hit a crucial pull-up jumper and Australia's attacking play was rewarded by getting China into the bonus. That enabled Coenraad to add a couple more points from the charity stripe and then Wright ended proceedings with a corner two for a 21-15 victory.

The final match of the tournament saw a replay of last year's gold medal game with Australia seeking back-to-back wins over Mongolia.

With three returning players from 2018, Mongolia were desperate to reverse the result and it was a physical, desperate contest.

Australia took 90 seconds to hit the scoreboard but no damage had been done with both teams recording more fouls than points.

Inside three minutes, Mongolia went over the foul penalty and that helped Australia move in front before Coenraad got free for a rare two-pointer, making it an 11-7 game.

Australia soon found themselves over the foul limit as well but Mongolia missed their two free-throws and Wright made them pay, knocking down consecutive two's to break the game wide open.

That gave the Aussies a 15-8 edge and it was a procession from there with Coenraad finishing the 21-9 game off in style from long range.

Completing their perfect tournaments, Tom Wright and Bec Cole were named respective tournament MVP's.

The gold medals put Australia in good stead ahead of the FIBA 3x3 World Cup from June 18-23 and cements their domination of Asia with the women winning gold in 2017, bronze in 2018 and gold in 2019 while the men have won bronze in 2017, gold in 2018 and gold in 2019.

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