Aussie Pearls fall to Russia at World Cup

Aussie Pearls fall to Russia at World Cup

The Pearls may have lost to Russia but they won the silver medal at the inaugural INAS-FID World Cup.

On Friday the two remaining undefeated teams in the INAS-FID World Cup met, the Australian Pearls eventually falling to Russia 62-46.

In front of a packed house of school children and disabled athletes from the local region, the Russian team started the game with amazing accuracy, scoring the first 2 points and then quickly followed by three consecutive 3-pointers in the first 3 minutes of the game.

Australia countered with three quick baskets from Mina Aldobasic (2) and Molly Urquhart-Moran (with a 3 and then a 2). Russia continued to score many easy baskets taking a match defining 10 point lead into the 3rd quarter (22-12).
In the second quarter, the Pearls adjusted to the Russian style of play and both teams traded 3-point shots. With 18 points coming from outside the arc, the crowd was well entertained. Both teams were evenly matched, scoring 15 points each.  The half time score was 37 to 27.
At the start of the second half, we had the opportunity to close the 10 point gap but we were unable to convert the easy baskets. The third and fourth quarters were closely contested with only 3 points separating the two teams in each quarter.
Our defensive effort was very good, restricting the Russian twin towers to a negligible impact on the game. Unfortunately closing down the Russian inside game left us exposed to their accurate outside shooting, where they racked up an impressive 11 3 pointers in the game (to our 4).
Coach Davidson said "Although proud of each one of the Pearls and their individual efforts this week, I'd especially like to mention one of our rookies, Natasha Nolan (from Melbourne), who had an exceptional defensive and offensive game.  Her speed and toughness had a major impact against the Russian team".
Top Scorers: Natasha Nolan 11, Molly Urquhart-Moran 11, Nicole Skerman 6, Kim Perry 6, Eliza Barden 6, Kaitlyn Papworth 4 and Mina Aldobasic 2
This tournament has been invaluable experience for the five rookies in the team, who have all gained considerable international exposure, which will help with their quest for selection for the Global Games to be held in July 2009.
The Pearls team would like to thank our fabulous supporters at home and also here in Italy. The girls have had such a fantastic international experience (on and off the court).  Special thanks to Barb Denson, our physio, who has done a spectacular job with the team, and also to Eliana, our interpreter who has become a favourite adopted team member and who has enhanced this experience for all of the girls.
On Friday at the closing ceremony the Pearls received a beautiful cup and individual medals. And although we are not looking forward to the long trip home, being home with our families will be most welcome.


Aussie Pearls undefeat at World Cup

14 November 2008

The Australian Pearls remain undefeated at the INAS-FID World Cup after overwhelming Portugal 97-28 in Rome on Thursday.

The Pearls dominated from tip off - their athleticism, structure and strength were too much for the young Portugal team. We were able to rotate players freely and work on some different combinations throughout the game in preparation for the match against Russia tomorrow.

Like France, Portugal are in the process of building their program and therefore were no match for the Australian team.

Top Scorers from today - Melissa Marlborough 14, Eliza Barden 14, Kim Perry 13, Molly Urquhart-Moran 12, Nicole Skerman 11, Kaitlyn papworth 11.

Australia's game was transferred to a prestigious private high school in the outskirts of Rome. The girls were guests of the school and were able to watch the grand final of the schools tournament (which all of the schools from around Rome had been competing for the last few months), and then the Pearls were asked to present the medals to the players. Captain Kim Perry was interviewed and spoke to the players and the large audience about our team’s preparation.

The Italian national TV network filmed much of the game for display on this evening's news.

Today was an amazing and unique experience for the Pearls, who once again have developed a reputation with the volunteers and organisers, as one of the best teams to be with. Polite, happy, considerate and friendly, the Pearls have made an excellent impression on this international stage.

One of our rookies, Kaitlyn Papworth, said it was a great opportunity to give medals to people just like us, and so good to see so many happy smiling faces. Nicole Skerman, from Queensland, said that she'd never had the opportunity to give someone else a medal and it was lots of fun to see these players enjoying their grand final.Tomorrow we face Russia in the biggest match of the week. Russia will be a difficult opponent as they have recruited a new 6'4" centre to team up with their veteran player who is 6'3". The Pearls are looking forward to this challenge for their last game of the week.


2-0 for Aussie Pearls at World Cup

13 November 2008

The Australian Pearls have won their second game, 92-12 over France, at the INAS-FID World Cup in Italy.

With allocation of training time prior to the game against France today, the Australian coach was able to re-enforce to the Pearls our standard plays and strategy for the game against France.

The Pearls dominated against the inexperienced France side for the duration of the game, giving all players the opportunity for valuable court time and international experience.  All 10 players were contributors to the final score.
Top Scorers:  Eliza Barden 14, Nicole Skerman 12, Renay Hall 12, Mina Aldobasic 11
Coach Davidson, when interviewed by the local Italia Sportiv, commented that this win was a positive step towards playing confidently against Russia on Friday. With Russia ranked number 1 and Australia ranked number 2, this game will be the climax of the tournament.  Today's game was streamed live on the net.
Tomorrow Australia play against Portugal.  We have been advised by the organising committee that several important dignitaries will be attending the match.  This game will also be streamed live so you can follow the action at

Aussie Pearls tip off World Cup with overtime victory

12 October 2008

The Australian Pearls (Australian Women’s team for athletes with an intellectual disability) have pulled off a mighty comeback, defeating Mexico 63-56 in overtime at the inaugural INAS-FID World Cup in Rome on Tuesday.

The first game of the World Cup tournament started poorly for Australia with our inability to convert open baskets, or stop Mexico's fast and accurate transition game. Finishing the first quarter down 21-6.
In the second quarter we increased our defensive intensity and gained some offensive rhythm.  When Kim Larkin (Vic) hit her first 3-pointer the team really lifted, and then two of our rookies, Kaitlyn Papworth (Vic) and Melissa Marlborough (ACT) hit their first baskets for Australia. The second quarter saw the Pearls’ best quarter score for the game with 16 points, and we held Mexico to just 13, significantly closing the gap to a score of 34-22 (we were still down).
The half time break allowed us to re-enforce some badly needed adjustments and with a slight change to our offence we again outscored Mexico 15-8. Another one of our rookies, Eliza Barden (NSW) started to attack the basket aggressively, creating opportunities for herself and her teammates. The score going into the final quarter was 42-37 (we were still down).
Momentum started to swing Australia's way in the fourth quarter but Mexico, who have never beaten us, continued to score and hold the lead. Very late in the quarter, Molly Urquhart-Moran (VIC) gave us the lead with 2 points off a strong low post move, which made the Australian bench go wild with excitement. But Mexico were quick to respond with 2 points of their own.  Australia was again, down, with 14 seconds on the clock.  Kim Larkin took control of the ball with one play remaining and taking her defensive player to the bucket managed to draw a foul on Mexico's strongest player, causing the Mexican to foul out and giving Kim two shots.  With 0.3 seconds remaining, Kim missed the first but put the game into overtime by making her second foul shot.  The score was 52-52.
At the start of overtime (5 mins), Australia hit the floor with an aggressive full court man-to-man defence, causing the Mexican team to have three back court violations in a row.  Australia easily took control of this period, outscoring Mexico 12-4.  The final score was 63 to 56.
After such a poor start it was fantastic to see the Pearls maintain a positive attitude and show real determination through to the end of the game.  Top Scorers:  Kim Larkin 16, Kaitlyn Papworth 10, Kim Perry 9, Molly Urquhart-Moran 9, Eliza Barden 7.
Tomorrow afternoon, the Pearls meet France who have been absent from International competition for 12 years.


Aussie Pearls touch down in Rome

11 November 2008


At 183 cm (6’1”), Kim has been an integral part of the Pearls team since her selection in 1999.  Kim attended her first try-out with the Pearls at the AIS Junior Basketball week in January 1999, and played in the Canberra Cup.  Later that year Kim travelled as a rookie with the team to Japan to compete in the 1999 Asia and South Pacific Championships which the Australian Women’s team won.  In 2002 Kim joined the team in Portugal for the World Championships with Australian Pearls placed third.  Kim played a sensational tournament, establishing herself as one of the top scorers and dominating the boards at both ends.  Kim then travelled with the team to Poland in 2003 to compete in the European Championships, gaining very valuable international experience prior to the 2004 Global Games where the Pearls were again placed third but also were awarded the Best team award as voted by the referees.

Kim was appointed vice-captain in 2006 as the Pearls travelled again to Japan for the 2006 World Championship, and helped to lead the Pearls to a Silver medal.  “Although we lost the final game, it was awesome to bring home Silver Now we just need to beat the Russians – and I know we will” Kim said.

When told of the appointment, Kim was “over the moon”.  This will be a special campaign for Kim as her parents and grandfather will be travelling to Italy to watch her in action.  “My folks have never seen me play for Australia before so I am thrilled, and my grandfather has been such a fabulous support to me over all these years – it will be great to see him watch me and have him there supporting the Pearls”.

Kim is a key member of the NSW Metro team and plays at Sutherland during the week.  Kim has also been helping with coaching kids at the Grey’s Point Public School.  Kim has worked at Coles in Caringbah for the past 7 years and is now the General Merchandise Manager.  Kim manages to fit in her basketball commitment while holding down a full time job.  She trains 3 nights a week, swims 1 night and also plays. 

Kim’s mother cried when she heard the news.  “This is a great thrill for Kim and for us and we are extremely proud of our girl.  Basketball has been such an important part of Kim’s life for over 15 years.  It has helped to make her the confident young woman she is.  When I finally see her play in Gold and Green, I think I will feel the same as all the other mothers who see their kids reach such a goal.  It will be like the Olympics for us.  We’ve bought a flag and scarves and lots of Aussie things – the Italians will know that the Aussie supporters have arrived.  Molly’s parents are also travelling to Rome – so there will be 5 of us to support the girls”.

Kim’s mother explained how Kim’s learning problems, diagnosed when she was child, have made it challenging to reach such successes.  “It takes so much longer for Kim to “get it” as she struggles to remember some things.  It took 2 years for Kim to learn how to catch the ball, pivot, face the basket and shoot, all in a natural motion.  Her determination is one of her amazing abilities, along with her very kind and loving nature”.

Kim said that she is very nervous about Italy.  “Travelling to Rome is going to be such a great experience, and I am very proud to be captaining the Pearls, but it is also going to be a bit overwhelming with Mum and Dad there.  My Pa has never seen me play for NSW or Australia so I am so happy that he’s coming too”.  Kim acknowledged the support and effort put in by her Aussie Coach – Larry Davidson, and also John Suva who helps Kim for many years on an individual basis with her shooting preparation.

Kim will be supported in her captaincy by Kim Larkin (Vic) and Nicole Skerman (Qld).  Both have played for many years for Australia and been sensational ambassadors for their country and sport (Kim started in 1994 and Nicole in 1998 and both have previously captained the Pearls).

The Pearls leave Australia for Italy on November 7th.

Keep in touch with the Pearls by sending an email to

Hi All, just a quick note to say - all is well.

The girls all did an amazing job, we were travelling for 37 hours to get here - it was a very long trip and no complaints. We settled into very nice accommodation, the food is a real challenge for us as it is very different and apart from the pasta, not much is good for athletes- especially breakfast.

Yesterday we went to Rome to the Colosseum and the Forum - 6 train trips in total, but it was a great morning of sightseeing. Lots of photos to enjoy when we get home. This morning we had the opening ceremony which was quite an experience.  Italy put on quite a show, and there were loud cheers from the audience of five Aussie supporters.

Tomorrow is our first game against Mexico; we play at 11am here.  Then we play France, Portugal and then Russia. The Russian team look very big, but we will see what they have during the week.

When we did the accreditation this morning we chatted to the Vice President and also the guy from Portugal. Next year is the Global Games in July, then World Championships in Portugal, then 2011 is regional games, and then they were interested to know if Australia would host the 2012 World Cup??  They were both very keen and felt all countries would attend - but of course no money was discussed.

Internet access is very limited here, but hopefully we can get to it each day at least for the match report.

Australian Pearls say arrivederci as they head to Rome

6 November 2008

In two days, the Australian Pearls will be winging their way to Rome, set to take on the best from the other competing Nations in the first ever INAS-FID World Cup.
Before we leave, the Pearls would like to say a huge THANK YOU

  • Basketball Australia for your continued support and belief in our program, and also for the fantastic press on the web site ( ).
  • AUSRAPID, Robyn, Kellie, Olivia and the team who have been a huge help in preparing us to go away.
  • The members of the SOPS (Supporters of the Pearls) who have raised $2,000 towards this trip (if you'd like to join the official Supporters program drop Toni a note at
  • To all my family and friends who got into the spirit of my $20 fund raiser - we raised over $1,000 to help the Pearls - thank you all so much - and it is amazing what can be achieved just with $20.  To those of you who donated - well done.  If anyone else would like to chip in  - just let me know.
  • To all of those other individuals who have assisted one or more of our Pearls team members - the list is way too long to put here, but I hope you each take enormous pride in the fact that you have helped one of our amazing Pearls in some way (large or small) to achieve one of their dreams.  We have 5 new players in this team, and I can't count the number of times I have heard them say - I am so proud to be representing Australia - YOU helped make this happen!!

We leave Australia on Friday afternoon, with first games on Monday 10th.  Please note that 
Rome is nine hours behind Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST).  That means when it is 6pm in Australia, it is 9am in Rome. This also means that as our games are likely to be late morning / afternoon, it won't be easy to get the results to you at home straight after the games.  For example if we play at 2pm, we will finish the game at 4pm which will be 1am in Australia. It also means that when people in Australia wake up and are starting their day, we will be fast asleep - so please do not call us, but you can catch up on all the Pearls results here on the Basketball Australia website.

Love Sally & the Pearls.---Australian Pearls announce captain30 October 2008Larry Davidson, head coach of the Australia Pearls, has today announced that Kim Perry will captain the Pearls in the INAS-FID World Cup to be held in Rome in November.