REAFFIRMING our world powerhouse status in women’s international basketball, the Australia 3×3 girls team surged to win bronze at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games.
After an agonising 19-20 overtime loss to France last night in the Youth Olympics semi-final, our girls bounced back to secure Australia’s first piece of international silverware in 3×3 basketball with a 16-13 bronze medal win over China.
Vic Metro star Sara-Rose Smith was brilliant throughout the tournament and alongside head coach Gerard Hillier, these Victorians have helped cement a lasting legacy for Australian 3×3 basketball through their efforts as part of this amazing side.
It capped a sensational tournament for the Australians, who came in without much fanfare or attention but managed to knock over impressive teams along the way to earn their medal.
Australia came into the tournament as the last women’s seed – 20th. It was not for a want of talent or a lack of motivation in the discipline – but solely based on 3×3 ranking points and our global ranking.
It helped put us into what many dubbed the “Group of Death”. But that was just another obstacle our Australian representatives were more than happy to barrel through on the way to success. Besting the Netherlands, Czech Republic and Estonia helped us escape the group and move on to storm past Ukraine 16-6 to book the penultimate showdown against France.
It went down to the wire, as neither side truly took the game by the horns, but in the end the result just didn’t fall our way.
Moving on to the bronze medal match, our four starring Australians – Suzi-Rose Deegan, Sara-Rose Smith, Ruby Porter and Alexandra Fowler – were able to stifle China’s offence and run away with the three-point triumph.
For Australian head coach Gerard Hillier, it was a brilliant finish to bounce back from the earlier defeat and showcased the girls’ grit and determination.
“What an absolutely fitting way to finish off what has been a huge campaign for the girls,” Hillier said. “After the heart breaking over-time loss in the semi-final versus France it was fantastic that the team could bounce back and claim a medal.
“The group has certainly gone from strength to strength throughout the tournament and developed from game to game and it was a really great effort from the ladies in wanting to learn from each game and get better as the tournament progressed.
“A massive thank you to the AOC staff over here supporting us, and also to Basketball Australia, Basketball Victoria and to our family and friends back home as the support has been amazing.
“Can’t wait for the next 3×3 tournament… but I’ll quickly check in with the family and drop off the gifts to my kids first!”