Gliders move into the medal round with victory over Mexico

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

London, England— A 62 points to 37 quarter-final win against Mexico on Tuesday night saw Australia's Gliders go forward into the medal round in front of a four-thousand-plus crowd at the Greenwich North Arena.

Mexico during the anthem
Image: Laura Hale.
Australia before the start of the game
Image: Laura Hale.
Mexico on the defence
Image: Laura Hale.
Players watch to see if the Mexican shot goes in
Image: Laura Hale.
Mexico during a time out
Image: Laura Hale.
A Mexican player gets up after getting tipped
Image: Laura Hale.
Gauci has the ball for Australia on the offense
Image: Laura Hale.
Merritt changing her wheel because of a spoke problem
Image: Laura Hale.

Winners of their group, Australia have never taken the gold in wheelchair basketball; their opponents, Mexico, were previously ranked ninth at the opening of the tournament, so making it thus-far boosts their ranking to eighth. They were, however, beaten by Australia 75 points to 45 in a pre-tournament warm up match.

Australia's first shot at goal was taken by Bridie Kean, from the free throw line; but, she missed both shots. Mexico's Lucia Vazquez Delgadillo then became the opened the scoring to give Mexico a two-point lead, their biggest of the entire game. Seconds later, Cobo Crispin had a shot from the paint, but missed; Kylie Gauci then finally put points on the scoreboard for the Gliders.

Mexico turned the ball over, and Cobi Crispin got her first from the paint, assisted by Kylie Gauci. This was repeated on the next play, with Sarah Stewart providing the assist. Mexico then scored, the Gliders responding with another shot from Cobi Crispin. On the next play, Kylie Gauci stole the ball and charged down the court, but failed to make the shot. Clare Nott took a defensive rebound, leading to Cobi Crispin scoring again. She was also fouled. but missed the resulting free throw. Shortly thereafter, Sarah Stewart took another foul, and made both shots to bring the score to 14 points to 4.

Mexico had great difficulty moving the ball up the court; suffering by timing out, or being forced into long shots that missed. But, when the same happened to the Gliders, Kylie Gauci, a two-point player, took a spectacular three point shot to take the score to 17 points to 8 in Australia's favour. Mexico then managed to score again before Amber Merritt came on with only three minutes left in the quarter, and missed her first shot at goal. A second attempt, coming from a pass by Kylie Gauci, put more points on the scoreboard.

With only a few seconds remaining in the quarter, Kylie Gauci stole the ball and delivered it to Shelley Chaplin, who scored again. The two teams went into the quarter-time break with the score 21 points to 10.

In the opening minutes of the second quarter, Shelley Chaplin assisted Cobi Crispin, and then Amber Merritt, to add another four points. Attempting to respond, Mexico missed two shots before scoring then, on the next play, allowed Amanda Carter to steal the ball, which led to Amber Merritt scoring again.

Australia followed this up with steals by Cobi Crispin and Amber Merritt, giving Shelley Chaplin more scoring opportunities. Mexico scored twice; but, Australia responded each time, with goals by Amber Merritt and Amanda Carter, who was fouled, making her's a three-point play. A steal led to a runaway break by Amber Merritt, bringing her contribution to ten points, and the score to 38 points to 16.

Mexico seemed unable to shake a pattern of turnovers and hasty shots, resulting in a 44 to 20 points difference at the half-time break.

In the third quarter, the Glider's intensity dropped off; A timeout, and a series of missed shots by Katie Hill, Brodie Kean and Cobi Crispin, gave Mexico a chance to stage a minor recovery by outscoring Australia for the quarter by one point, leaving the score at 50 to 27 at the end of the third quarter.

The final quarter got off to an unimpressive start for both teams; Australia's Leanne del Toso missed a shot at one end, and Mexico's Floralia Estrada Bernal missed one at the the other. Sarah Stewart missed too before a Mexican turnover led to the first scoring of the quarter, by Sarah Stewart. Mexico's Rocio Torres Lopez scored in response, another shot by Sarah Stewart missed; but, Amanda Carter took an offensive rebound, which eventually made it into the basket. Turnovers by Bridie Kean and Leanne del Toso led Mexico putting points on the board consecutively, but successive fouls sent Bridie Kean to the free throw line to score three points.

Amber Merritt brought the score to 59 points to 35 with her seventh scoring shot. By this point, Australia was deliberately running down the clock, passing the ball around, and taking shots at the last minute. This led to several missed shots by Sarah Vinci and Katie Hill, with Mexico unable to capitalise on the opportunities. Under intense Australian defensive pressure, Mexico missed shots and turned over the ball as-often as before. With nineteen seconds of play remaining, Katie Hill took a two point shot from inside the paint; attracting a foul, she scored another point from a free throw.

Although Mexico's Wendy Garcia Amador scored the last two points of the game, the final score of 62 points to 37 meant the Mexican team's Paralympic campaign was over.

Australia must now confront the winner of tonight's United States versus Canada game on Thursday.


Sources

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