The Australian Under 19 Women’s basketball team, the Gems, were knocked out of medal contention at the 2007 FIBA World Championship in the Slovak Republic tonight following a gut wrenching final second 72-69 loss to Spain.
Spanish guard Gabriela Ocete had possession with six seconds remaining and threw up a half court prayer which was duly answered to break the Gems hearts after they had clawed back from 11 points down midway through the final quarter.
The gallant Gems, who will now battle it out for fifth position, should have never even gotten close to Spain after a third quarter from hell put them all but out of contention.
“We did everything right in the first half,” Head Coach Dean Kinsman said. “We executed well, shot well and really had them on the back foot.
“We were 16 points up but some indiscriminate fouls in quick succession forced us into changes and when that happens momentum swings.
“We tried everything from rotations to changing match-ups but they had their tails up and got on one of those runs but we have to finish this tournament off now.
“The girls need to learn from this and have responsibility to learn. Abby Bishop battled her heart out tonight and Marianna Tolo was great for us too.”
18-year-old Canberra Capitals gun forward Abby Bishop was inspirational in leading the Gems with a massive 19-point, 14 rebound double-double. Mackay’s Marianna Tolo added 13 points and 2006/07 defencejobs WNBL Rookie of the Year Cayla Francis scored 9 points in support.
Tamara Abalde and Alba Torrens scored a game high 22 points each to lead Spain.
The Gems fell behind 8-5 midway through the first term before clicking into gear to go on a 14-2 run and with Bishop and Tolo providing strong inside presence, the Gems led 19-10 at quarter time.
The Gems ran rampant early in the second term through six quick points from Mia Newley, younger sister of Australia Post Boomers star Brad, and with Bishop tallying a 12-point, 10 rebound double-double by halftime the Aussies extended their lead to 43-30 at halftime.
The Gems got into severe foul trouble in the third quarter with Nicole Hunt, Kate Gaze, Bishop and Francis all racing to three fouls each, forcing Kinsman into heavy rotation which unsettled the Aussies game plan and allowed Spain to go on a 13-0 run to take the lead with three minutes left in the quarter.
In a nightmare quarter for the Gems, which included 12 turnovers, poor shooting and regular Spanish trips to the charity stripe, Spain won the term 25-7 to open up a 55-50 three quarter time lead.
Spain scored the first six points of the final term to extend their lead to 61-50 before the Gems responded with determined, gritty play and through clinch baskets from Tolo and guard Katie Ebzery, leveled the scored at 65-all with 2:40 remaining.
Bishop dropped a lay-up to give the Gems a 67-65 advantage before a three point play from Torrens gave Spain a 68-67 lead before Bishop again produced a clinch basket to give the Gems the lead 69-68 with 24 seconds remaining.
However, Bishop unfortunately fouled out of the game on the next play, sending Torrens to the line and forcing Australian timeout.
After Torrens made one of her two free throws to level the scores at 69-all the Gems moved the ball up the court for a chance to win the game but Rebecca Schatz’s shot missed before Ocete’s half court shot smashed in off the backboard.
There were no injuries to report.The Gems next game is against the Czech Republic, who they beat 85-79 on Wednesday, at 9:30 AEST tonight, Saturday August 4.