Gliders will take flight to London
A very nervous wait for the Australian women’s wheelchair basketball team came to a very happy ending tonight, when they won the right to compete at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
The Gliders defeated Korea 84-11 in the final qualifying match at the 2011 Asia Oceania Championships in Goyang, Korea, securing a spot at next year’s Games.
With four nations vying for the two qualification spots, it came down to the final two round robin games today which saw Australia needing beat Korea to progress, along with the winner of the match between Japan and China.
The Chinese prevailed 69-58 in an extraordinarily tense battle, before the Aussies took care of business against the Koreans after failing to do so the night before against Japan.
An Australian victory 24 hours earlier over Japan would have avoided the rather sleepless night endured by some of the Gliders, including point guard Kylie Gauci, before today’s clash.
“After our Japan loss, I had the sickest feeling in my stomach the whole entire night and even this morning. We had to do the maths and work out if we were safe if we won against Korea, which we were, but it was a feeling I would not wish that upon anybody there for a little while,” Gauci said.
“We wanted to win that Japan game so we had our destiny in our own hands, but then when we lost, we passed our destiny into the hands of the other two teams, and that was an awful feeling.”
With their Paralympic dreams on the line, the Gliders could not have been more impressive against the host nation tonight, with every member of the squad not only gaining court time, but making a helpful contribution.
The Gliders have now progressed to tomorrow’s championship final, where they will meet China. Japan and Korea will play-off for bronze.
Australian captain Bridie Kean said the performance against Korea was just what was needed to prepare for the Gliders’ tilt at the Asia Oceania crown.
“After today, we can now finally celebrate knowing that we’ve got our spot in London 2012. It feels amazing. It feels like we have had to fight the whole way, which has actually made it so much more satisfying,” Kean said
“A big thing that the Gliders have learnt this week is that when we play every second, it pays off. So that’s what we’re taking into the final tomorrow, and also our campaign for London.
“This tournament has giving us such an awesome boost because we know now that we can deal with pressure.”
The Gliders enter tomorrow’s final as the top qualifiers and brought their round robin campaign to an end tonight in fine style.
While Leanne Del Toso (22 points) and Amber Merritt (14 points) led the scoring, the desire to play as a whole squad was evident and all but one Glider put their name on the scoresheet.
And even with the elation of securing London Paralympic qualification, Australian head coach John Triscari immediately dismissed the suggestion that it will be difficult to get his team motivated for tomorrow’s final.
“To win a gold medal at any tournament is everyone’s goal,” Triscari said.
“China is going to go into the game on a real high. We’ve beaten them twice this week, but we know they are a very capable and committed team who want to win this tournament just as much as we do
“We have concentrated on getting our plans right and execution them well. Against the Koreans we I thought we took good care of the fine detail, and I think that will really help us tomorrow. We’re looking forward to it.”
The Australian men’s wheelchair team, the Rollers, already booked their place at next year’s Paralympic Games by emerging undefeated from the qualifying rounds, and will be raging hot favourites in their gold medal match tomorrow.
The Rollers play Japan for gold, while Korea and Chinese Taipei will contest the bronze medal match.
2011 Asia Oceania Wheelchair Basketball Championships – Goyang, South Korea
Australian schedule (AEDST)
Fri Nov 4
GLIDERS 68 – China 49
Sat Nov 5
Japan 59 – GLIDERS 56
ROLLERS 88 – Chinese Taipei 37
ROLLERS 104 – New Zealand 27
Sun Nov 6
ROLLERS 79 – Iraq 29
GLIDERS 119 – Korea 9
Mon Nov 7
GLIDERS 59 – China 42
ROLLERS 65 – Korea 49
Tue Nov 8
Japan 52 – GLIDERS 49
ROLLERS 77 – Japan 58
Wed Nov 9
GLIDERS 84 – Korea 11
Thu Nov 10
11:00 Korea v Japan (Women)
13:00 Korea v Chinese Taipei (Men)
15:00 GLIDERS v China (Women)
17:00 ROLLERS v JAPAN (Men)
Competing Teams (men)
Competing Teams (women)
By Tim Mannion
here is the link to the team qualifying for london 2012