Every game of the tournament so far, the young and inexperienced Geckos have stepped up a level each time they have played, but unfortunately they did not play to their full potential today.
The Geckos did not get off to a great start, but after Coach Bressow called an early time out, and asked the players to lift their work rate, they did lift and play better. Halfway through the first quarter two of the Geckos starting five were in early foul trouble and needed to be rested. As the team was playing one player down (with Tameka Browning out injured), this meant the team needed to switch to a zone defence which was not as effective as the pressure man to man defence the Geckos had impressed with in earlier matches. At quarter time, the Geckos were down by 23 points to 9.
The Ukrainians played an extremely physical style of basketball, however the Geckos kept their cool as the play got rough. The Australian team struggled against the full court pressure of Ukraine, making 18 turnovers in the 2nd quarter. These mistakes were capitalized on by Ukranian Olga Kalchenko, who scored 7 points for the quarter. The Geckos went into the half time break down 37 to 14.
In the 3rd quarter, the Geckos continued to be hurt by turnovers and foul trouble. Whilst they did not give up, the Aussies were not able to keep pace with the Ukrainian team. Caitlin Johnson worked hard inside for the Geckos (9 rebounds for the match), against the 6 foot 4 Ukrainian Natalia Dulida, but the Geckos were not able to convert their second chance opportunities created by their strong rebounding, going down 22 to 5 in the quarter.
In the final term, the Australians had 3 of their starting 5 fouled out, and were left with only 1 forward on the floor. This made it very difficult to compete against the tall and physical Ukrainians.
The Geckos are now keen to put that game behind them, and take the positives from all of their other matches into their 7th and 8th playoff game tomorrow against China.
Australia 25 (Ashleigh Bransden 9, Renee Kahle 9, Caitlin Johnson 4)
Ukraine 83 (Viktoriya Ukrayinets 22, Olga Kalchenko 17, Yuliya Moskalets 13)
Player diary – Renee and Tash
Our 6th game straight meant our focus on the game was extremely important. After playing the world’s top 3 teams, we were proud of the effort and what we had achieved as a team so far.
Disappointing result from our game against Ukraine, however we have all walked away with our heads held high. Our final opportunity to play for 7th place against China requires our best game yet! GO GECKOS!!
Renee #10, Tash #11
Deaflympics: Geckos succumb to the might of the USA
There was no pressure on the Australian Geckos going into their cross over match against the USA at the Taipei Deaflympics on Friday. The USA are the defending Deaflympic gold medalists and the current World Champions, and so the Geckos went out to enjoy themselves, play hard, and have some fun, eventually falling 83-28.
The more relaxed approach definitely worked well for the Australian team, they came out and played their best game of the tournament so far. The team has been improving every game they play, and although they lost the match today, there were a lot of positives for the team to take from the game.
The first quarter saw the Geckos come out and surprise everyone by scoring first, and then matching it goal for goal for the entire quarter. There was some excellent blocking out and rebounding by Caitlin Johnson, Alicia Finch and Nicola Taschke, against much bigger and stronger USA opponents. The first quarter saw the Geckos out rebound the USA by 18 to 8. The strong rebounding enabled the Geckos to make the most of their second chance offensive opportunities and at quarter time the difference was only 2 points, 13 to 11.
The size of the USA inside players and the speed of their guards was evident in the second quarter, with their guards making 11 steals that were then converted to fast breaks. This enabled the USA to extend their lead to be up by 37 to 15 at half time.
In the third term, the Geckos again produced another fantastic 10 minutes of basketball, lead by the defensive work of captain Nicola Taschke and the strength and control of Alicia Finch. The pressure defence of the Geckos forced the USA into three 24 second shot clock violations. The Geckos pushed hard the entire time, never giving up and going down by only 9 points in the quarter.
The fourth quarter saw the USA’s tough defence force turnovers by the Australians and the Americans were again able to capitalize on their significant inside size advantage. After the match Coach Janelle Bressow was very pleased with the performance of her team, and said “ anyone who has watched the Geckos play over this last week would have seen the team of mostly first time Deaflympians develop and improve game by game. Today was the coming of age for this team as the first quarter of the match showed that they can match it with the world’s best team. Assistant Coach Dave Taschke and I are very proud of how the girls kept their heads up and kept going, they never gave in which is a credit to their team spirit and their support of each other.”
In tomorrow’s match the Geckos will play against Ukraine, with the winner going through to the playoff for 5th and 6th, and the loser to play off for 7th and 8th position.
Australia 28 (Ashleigh Bransden 11, Caitlin Johnson 6, Ashleigh Kedge 3) defeated by
USA 83 (Abigail Moose 16, Jennifer Decuir 14, Stacy Nowak 11)
An exciting opportunity today playing the world number 1 team. We went out there ready to put up a fight and play our game – at the end of the first quarter, with a score of 11 to 13, we were right on track. We felt good in the game, more of our shots were going in, we were getting more rebounds, and in general, we were playing better basketball.
With a team full of new players, today’s game was an awesome experience. We worked hard and smart, trying to put pressure on the posts and avoid getting caught unaware. We’re feeling positive – our teamwork and camaraderie is fantastic, and we’re enjoying the game. It’s an awesome feeling when each game is your best game yet and we learn from each game we play!
Nic Taschke #7, Ash Kedge #4, Tameka Browning #9
Deaflympics: Geckos to face USA
It was an important final pool game for the Geckos against Japan on Day 5 of the basketball competition at the 2009 Deaflympics but Australia's Deaf Women's team eventually fell to Japan 64-40.
Both teams had lost to Sweden and Lithuania, and beaten Hong Kong, so the result of this match would determine 3rd and 4th placings in the pool. The Geckos played some of their best basketball of the tournament, but were not able to overcome the outside shooting power of Japan.
Japan’s Yuki Suzuki led all scorers with 15 points while Ashleigh Bransden posted a team high 12 points for the Geckos.
The Australian team had an excellent defensive start, with the job of defending Japanese sharp shooter Motomi Oba given to Ashleigh Kedge. Oba has been scoring almost half of her team’s points in earlier matches, and Kedge did a great job to hold her to 9 points in the first quarter. The Geckos ran their offences well and had very good shot selection, but were let down by poor shooting percentages. At quarter time Japan were up 16 to 8.
In the second quarter, the defensive job on Oba was given to Natasha Gray (who was celebrating her 22nd birthday), and Oba was contained to only 2 points for the quarter. With Geckos strongest scorer Ashleigh Bransden in foul trouble early, Coach Janelle Bressow was forced to rest her for most of the quarter. Despite being without their biggest offensive threat, the Geckos showed great spirit and fought back to be down by only 3 at half time with the score 24 to 21.
The second half saw the Japanese light up from beyond the 3 point line, with 8 triples in the half. Whilst Kedge and Gray continued to contain Oba, it was her team mate Yuka Suzuki who hurt the Geckos with three 3 pointers in the final quarter. With Bransden fouled out early in the final term, vice captain Renee Kahle stepped up with 7 points and 7 rebounds, however this was not enough for the Geckos to rein in Japan, going down 64 to 40.
The Geckos will now play Deaf World Champions and defending Deaflympic gold medalists the USA in their cross over match tomorrow.
Australia 40 (Ashleigh Bransden 12, Ashleigh Kedge 8, Renee Kahle 7) defeated by
Japan 64 (Yuki Suzuki 15, Motomi Oba 14, Nozomi Tomita 9)
Player Diary: Cate Johnson and Alicia Finch
Don’t Worry, Be Happy! An important fourth match for us today, because we were evenly matched against Japan. In the first quarter we were going basket for basket and we were very close with them. Despite some fantastic moves and hard work it was frustrating to miss so many shots. At half time we had caught up to them and the score was only 3 points the difference. We played better basketball in today’s game than we have in our other 3 games. We are running more offensive systems, and screening more.
What we have learned today is that as a team we are supporting and positive, no matter what. We are a really good team that gets along well, supports each other through highs and lows, and we are a happy team. This experience is so good for us, we have worked so hard and our game is improving so much.
We are looking forward to playing against USA tomorrow as the experience will be AWESOME!
Cate Johnson #12, & Alicia Finch #13
Day 4: Geckos overwhelmed by Sweden
In their third match of the 2009 Taipei Deaflympics, the Australian Geckos came up against the world’s second best team, Sweden. With the majority of the Swedish team attending their second or third Deaflympics, their experience and skill saw them victorious over the Geckos 82 to 26.
The Geckos played with more intensity today, but were again let down by some misplaced passes and poor shooting percentages.
The Swedish team started well and got away to a quick 14 to 2 lead thanks to the outstanding skills of the “Lauren Jackson” of women’s deaf basketball, Cecelia Ferm. Australia switched their defence from man to man to zone which slowed the Swedish scoring. Cecelia Ferm was strongly supported by veteran Swedish player Asa Wahlstrom who pulled in 7 rebounds in the second quarter alone. By half time the Swedish team had a lead of 45 to 13.
In the second half, the Australians played better, lifted by the great hustling defence of guards Natasha Gray and Ashleigh Kedge. Ashleigh Bransden again demonstrated her strong drives to the basket, leading the Geckos scorers with 16 points. The final score was Sweden 82, Geckos 26.
The Geckos have certainly learned a lot from their match against such a high quality team and will take that into their crucial final pool match tomorrow night against Japan.
Australia 26 (Ashleigh Bransden 16, Nicola Taschke 5, Alicia Finch 3) defeated by
Sweden 82 (Cecelia Ferm 17, Therese Rollven 17, Larissa Strante 17)
Leading up to competing against the world’s number 2 team we were all focused on taking the positives and lessons learned from previous games. We knew they were a strong team, so we went out to run them down and stop their top scorer, Cecelia Ferm from scoring. Although we started off slow, the 3rd and 4th quarters were much better. We found some fire from within and used our strong defence to stop them from scoring. According to the statistics there was only 9 points difference in the points scored in the final quarter.
As a team we are growing together, we trust each other, and believe that as a team we can go far. We are very grateful for our strong leadership that encourages us at every turn to achieve the best we can. We are looking forward to tomorrow’s game against Japan. We plan on giving 150% each in the game to beat them. We have the positive attitude and strong determination to kick some butt!!
Kerry Bevan #8 & AJ Bransden #5.
Photo courtesy of Scott Chesterton