Gliders claim silver in Osaka: complete tour recap
Tesch named to All-Star Five
Liesl Tesch, the Captain of the Australian women’s wheelchair basketball team, has been honoured with selection to the All-Star Five of the Osaka Cup tournament which concluded in Japan last weekend.
The Osaka Cup is a four-team tournament that provides a vital step in the Australian women’s wheelchair team’s preparations for the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing.
Australia claimed the silver medal at the event after losing the final to world and Paralympic champions Canada, 46-31.
In lead-up games before the Final, Australia defeated host nation Japan 50-40, they lost to Canada 69-34, and they defeated the United States 46-35.
Tesch is a long serving member of the Australian women’s wheelchair basketball team (known as the Gliders), having first represented Australia in 1990.
She has since played 138 games for her country, including those in four world championships and four Paralympic Games campaigns.
Canada’s J. Krempien (1.0 classification) was named Tournament MVP.
February 17 - Night
By Liesl TESCH and Clare BURZYNSKI
After our disappointing loss to Canada, we defeated the Unites States to set up a rematch with Canada where we would have to prove we could play four quarters against the current World Champions.
Despite the fact it was Katie Hill’s birthday, we were calm, focused, and excited to be in the final. To quote Clare: “I wouldn’t say I was nervous, but I knew it was going to be tough”.
Breakfast was scheduled later, there was less waiting around at the stadium, and we even got a chance to see the end of the USA-Japan game as we headed to the locker room.
The plan was to play with confidence as we had nothing to lose, but the formidable combination of Peers and Benoit (scoring at least 5 uncontested fast-breaks), backed up by ex- Canadian Paralympian Misty Thomas (who shot 75%), and the fighting defensive aggression of their MVP one-pointer Jennifer Krempien was just too much for the Gliders to handle this time round.
While the silver medal wasn’t ultimate glory, it was a reward for what our young and united team has been able to achieve in a short period of time.
We know we have a lot to work on and we are looking forward to expanding our skills once we get home.
After we waved goodbye to all the volunteers at the Osaka Municipal Central Gymnasium, it was time to ‘frock-up’ in our new white Peak polos - the team’s favourite piece of uniform - for the banquet, otherwise known as Katie’s Huge Birthday Dinner Party.
The slightly spiked lemonade (surely not!) added vibrancy to the translated speeches, as well as the magician’s show and global bingo.
Once the sushi was finished and the formalities were over, the on-court rivalry extended to physical challenges, dancing competitions and karaoke competitions against the girls from the USA.
Most of us kicked on until the early hours, and the die-hard Aussies finished up with a game of two-up using Katie’s birthday sign as faux-money.
Time for bed!
Liesl and Clare
The Australian women’s wheelchair team, the Gliders, have been defeated by world and Paralympic champions Canada in the final of the Osaka Cup in Japan, 66-41.
Liesl Tesch and Kylie Gauci were equal top scorers for Australia with 10 points while Chantal Benoit continued her good form to lead Canada with 18 points.
The Gliders went into the game with confidence after a win over the United States got them to the Final and they were successful in stopping the Canadian’s fast-paced transition game.
But Olympian Misty Thomas hit 6 of her first 8 shots from the perimeter to leave Australia trailing at the end of the first quarter, 18-9.
The Gliders were patient on offense but once again they failed to convert their chances, allowing Canada to build on their lead and enter the half time break ahead, 34-20.
The Gliders continued to work their offensive and defensive strategy in the second half against the best team in the world, with all 10 players contributing and gaining valuable playing experience.
The Aussie girls never gave up but they were unable to contain the Canadian’s firepower and eventually fell by 25 points.
Glider’s head coach Gerry Hewson said he was happy with the progress of his new team, which has had limited practice and game time together, and that he is looking forward to another international tournament that will be played in Australia in June.
AUSTRALIA 41 - Tesch 10, Gauci 10, Chaplin 8
CANADA 66 - Benoit 18, Peers 16, Thomas 14
The Australian women’s basketball team (the Gliders) have defeated the United States 46-35 in the third game of the Osaka Cup in Japan.
Shelley Chaplin top scored for Australia with 15 points, closely followed by Liesl Tesch with 14 points and Sarah Stewart with 6 points.
Carlee Hoffman scored 15 points to lead the USA.
The Gliders began the game strongly but were unable to convert good opportunities into points which saw them trailing at the first break 16-13.
The Aussie girls lifted their defensive intensity in the second quarter to keep their opponents out of the key way, allowing the US team only 5 points in the second quarter to go into the half time break with the lead, 23-21.
This contest followed that pattern for the remainder, with the Gliders exhibiting fantastic defence combined with good offensive structure, winning both the third and fourth quarters and ending the game victorious 46-35.
“This was a very good recovery after our loss to Canada, and it was great to get the win over the USA to lift our confidence going into the final game tomorrow,” Gliders head coach Gerry Hewson said after the game.
The win means the Gliders now face a repeat match against world number 1, Canada.
AUSTRALIA 46 – Chaplin 15, Tesch 14, Stewart 6
USA 35 – Hoffman 15, Gonzales 10, Wheeler 5
Friday 16th - Night
By Katie HILL and Melanie DOMASCHENZ
Today we played our second and third games of the tournament.
First up this morning was our game against Canada, which we’re sorry to say we lost with a score of 63-34. However, we managed to come back in the afternoon after another nutritious lunch of sandwiches, pancakes and various other articles of gourmet junk food to win our game against USA.
Although both games were challenging we were able to use our strong aggressive defence in the afternoon as we had not been able to in the morning, to gain an eleven point win against USA, ending with a score of 46-35.
After the two hard games we thought we had better throw ourselves into a pool recovery session which eventually evolved into relay races and games.
We rushed back down to the gym straight after that to watch the Wheelchair Basketball Friendship Junior Lesson, in which Sarah, Tina, Cobi and Clare participated, teaching “kodomo kawaii” (cute little Japanese children) various basic basketball skills.
Finishing up our night was another Gliders challenge, where we all had to lay on the floor to measure our height and wingspans!
Overall, it was a satisfying day and we are looking forward to playing against Canada in the Final tomorrow afternoon, but I’m sure you’ll hear all about that tomorrow from Liesl and Clare.
Katie and Doma
The Australian women’s wheelchair basketball team (the Gliders) were defeated by world and Paralympic champions Canada at the Osaka Cup in Japan this afternoon, 63-34.
Sarah Stewart top scored for Australia with 8 points and was supported by Liesl Tesch with 7 points.
Chantal Benoit top scored for Canada with 16 points.
The Gliders’ offensive transition worked well in the opening quarter, but poor defensive transition allowed Canada to go into the first break ahead by three, 18-15.
The experienced and well drilled Canadian team then capitalised on Australia’s off-target shooting, extending the lead to ten at half time, 33-23.
Australia’s scoring woes continued in the third quarter as they remained unable to convert good opportunities into points to trail by 20 at three-quarter time, 47-27.
Many of the Gliders’ younger players got an opportunity to shine in the fourth quarter but they were unable to bridge the gap, eventually falling 63-34.
“We know we can compete with Canada at this level,” head coach Gerry Hewson said, “but we need more international games to consolidate our own game to do so.”
No injuries were reported.
Australia faces the United States this afternoon in the second game of a tough double-header.
AUSTRALIA 34 – Stewart 8, Tesch 7, Gauci 6, Chaplin 6
CANADA 69 – Benoit 16, Peers 12, Radke 11
Previously - Gliders defeat Japan at Osaka Cup
The Australian women’s wheelchair team, the Gliders, have defeated Japan in the opening game of the Osaka Cup in Japan, 50-40.
Kylie Gauci top scored for Australia with 15 points and was well supported by Shelley Chaplin and Sarah Stewart, who both scored 9 points.
Hashimoto Yasuko top scored for Japan with 8 points.
Australia began the game strongly at Osaka City Municipal Stadium, with their full court press proving beneficial early in the game, but an inability to score off those stops meant that the Gliders were only ahead by two points at the first break, 12-10.
The Gliders built on their lead in the second quarter to lead 24-15 at half time, before continued hustle on defence in the third quarter saw the Gliders maintain their lead and head into the final break ahead 35-27.
The host nation’s team attempted to close the gap a number of times in the fourth quarter but Australia were able to hold their lead with a solid performance and finish out the match winners, 50-40.
“It was a good start to the competition, seeing as this was the first time the group has played together since July 2006,” Head Coach Gerry Hewson said.
No injuries were reported.
The Gliders face world and Olympic champions Canada tomorrow, followed by a second game against the United States.
AUSTRALIA 50 – Gauci 15, Chaplin 9, Stewart 9
JAPAN 40 – Yasuko 8
February 15 – Day
By Kylie GAUCI CRISPIN and Tina McKenzie
First game up – Australia versus Japan – and we finally have some international game time, the first since July last year.
It was time to remove the cobwebs and put into place what we have been practicing at training, but first we had to represent Australia at the Opening Ceremony of the International Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Friendship Games – otherwise known as the Osaka Cup.
The Japanese showed their cheerleading talents – and their talents with long handled swords – during a demonstration at the Opening Ceremony and both were great. Then we got our game plan together and hit the court against Japan.
We rushed things a bit in the opening quarter but our defensive press was impressive (ha ha) and we went into quarter time with a 2 point lead.
Let’s cut to the chase – the final score was Australia 50, Japan 40!!
After that we scouted the other game to see tomorrow’s opponents, Canada and the United States, the two best teams in the world, and during the game we were inundated with school children who wanted our signatures.
Now it’s time to rest for the big games.
Kylie and Tina
February 14 - night
By Shelley CHAPLIN and Kat O’KELLY-KENNEDY
Day 3 is done and we’re pumped for our first game against Japan tomorrow morning!
This morning we visited a school full of very excited children ready to watch and play wheelchair basketball with us. We had a very warm welcome and we’re looking forward to all our new little friends coming out to cheer for us.
We had a grand entrance with all the children lined up on either side holding colourful archways - and all the kids had high fives at the ready! We felt almost royal…who are we kidding?...we are royal!
After the school visit, the sausage Danish made another appearance at lunch to everyone’s delight. After a bit of down-time we had our last practice session before we hit the court tomorrow…and just quietly, we’re looking rather good.
Only the keen bowlers amongst us have gone back for more (see previous entry) while the rest of us are preparing for bed and tomorrow’s big game!
Shelley and I are looking forward to playing with some Aussies again! Stay tuned for more updates from the ladies in room 508, Tina and Kylie.
Shelley and Kat
The Australian women’s wheelchair team, the Gliders, have held their first training sessions on Japanese soil in advance of the opening game of the Osaka Cup.
The 4-team Osaka Cup is a vital tournament in the Gliders’ preparation for the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing.
The Gliders will face the host nation on Thursday, soon after the conclusion of the Opening Ceremony and before games against Canada and the United States on Friday.
A final playoff game will take place on Saturday.
February 13 – Day
By Cobi CRISPIN and Sarah STEWART
Today we had our first two training sessions as a whole team. In between, some people slept, some brainstormed - and two went off into the big wide world!
It turns out we are in the middle of an industrial island surrounded by huge grey, prison like buildings except for two huge interesting and colorful buildings that looked promising until we found out they were rubbish recycling centres.
After a team meeting we had a water bottle bowling competition which involved many laughs, but I’m sure it wasn’t so good for the people trying to sleep on our floor, so we moved to another level both with our bowling - literally.
We are currently typing this six feet off the ground as the hospital bed has malfunctioned.
Hopefully Kat O’Kelly-Kennedy and Shelley Chaplin will save us when they come to get the laptop to write their player diary!
Cobi and Sarah
February 12 – Night
By Liesl TESCH and Clare BURZYNSKI
We have arrived!
After a great first camp at home last weekend, we are all decked out in our fabulous new Peak uniforms and are already overseas and almost ready for our first offshore preparation on our “Journey for Jin”.
The trip was smoother than ever – just a slight delay in Sydney because of the torrential rain – and we are just getting ready for our first night in Osaka.
Clare my roomie is super-tired as she left Perth at midnight Perth-time and has been travelling for 24 hours. For the rest of us, the two hour time difference is definitely preferable to the trips to the States or Europe.
It was great to meet up with Shelley Chaplin and Kat O’Kelly-Kennedy again. They had a night in Chicago en route from Illinois, and then a good dinner and a few hours sleep before the Gliders staggered up the corridor and woke them.
The showers are hot, but our coach Gerry Hewson, assistant coach Mark Hewish and physio Kym Eyrs don’t even have a shower in their room, but they do have a tatami mat cubby house.
The toilets have a spurting water jet and a warm seat (love Japan!) and the nutritious dinner of a small orange juice and a pre-packaged cold hot-dog Danish should almost suffice until breaky and our first training session.
Liesl and Clare
Uphill battle for title
By Suheil DAMOUNY for The Bankstown Torch
PADSTOW local Katie Hill will be in Japan this week with the Australian Women’s Wheelchair Basketball team, the Gliders, to contest the Osaka Cup.
The young Australians face some tough opposition including the might of host nation Japan, World and Paralympic champions Canada and the USA, but will benefit greatly from the experience as they build towards the Beijing Paralympic Games in 2008.
Katie, 21, plays basketball for both the Hills Hornets team girls side (which won the Women’s National Wheelchair Basketball League in 2006) and the Westbus Sydney Razorbacks (which were defeated by the WheelKings in the minor semi final) in the Men’s League.
“I think USA will probably be the strongest team there and maybe Japan will be more on par with Australia. I just want to gain more experience and become a better player,” she said.
“There are a few new players in the team, so it is quite a mixed team. I think the coach has selected a team without ‘bigs’ so we are a lot shorter, but hopefully a lot faster and a lot stronger.”
“Personally I am hoping to improve my level of basketball so that I can be on that team when the selections are made.
“It’s there, it is in the back of my mind, and I am working towards that. I think it is quite realistic,” she said.
Playing in the guard position, she does admit that if selections were to be made today, she would not be prepared or confident.
“I want to train hard and improve fitness to develop as many skills as possible. A lot of players have been there for quite a while, it is not an old team by any means, they are a young and talented team and a few players have been selected who are not part of the team which has not been part of that solid group and I am one of them. A couple of the initial players have retired so the team has expanded and reformed.”