London Paralympics firmly in their sights, the Australian men’s and women’s
teams both posted impressive victories to open the 2012 Wheelchair Basketball
World Challenge in Sydney.
women’s team, the Gliders, were dominant from the outset in their 67-41 victory
over Japan, before their male counterparts overcame Great Britain in a very
torrid clash at the Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre.
The Rollers prevailed 60-37, but not before some bruising exchanges with a
Great Britain outfit clearly out to rattle the reigning Paralympic and World
Australian Rollers head coach Ben Ettridge always knew the match would be
physical, and was proud of the way his men faced the challenge.
"Our level of team work was outstanding and our understanding of each other and
the game was very high,” Ettridge said.
"You never want to say you are happy as a coach, but I’m pleased with the level
we are at right now.
"Great Britain is a sleeping giant and we know they are going to lift as the
home team in London. They’re always going to push hard and they’re always going
to fight. But our guys did the job tonight, it was a really good performance.
Tristan Knowles (18 points), WAIS athlete Justin Eveson (14 points) and Brett
Stibners (13 points) led the way offensively in front of their home crowd,
while Great Britain’s Ade Oregembe (9 points) Terry Bywater (8 points) and
firebrand point guard Jon Pollack (4 points) caused the most headaches for the
Earlier in the day, it was a Western Australian Institute of Sport athlete on
the verge of her first Paralympics who shone brightest for the Gliders, in what
was a high quality performance at both ends of the court.
Amber Merritt compiled 20 points and grabbed eight rebounds and two steals to
show she will certainly be one to watch when the Paralympic Games open in just
42 days time.
Experienced campaigners Cobi Crispin (17 points), Bridie Kean (9 points) and Merritt’s
fellow WAIS teammate Clare Nott (8 points) were also strong as the Gliders led
at every change while taking the chance to rotate their bench.
- Australian Paralympic Committee