After seeing five cities in two days with various connecting flights the boys were very keen to hit the courts and show the highly touted Houston team what Australian basketball is all about.
Despite the Houston boys having a slight size and weight advantage, our men were able to dictate the flow of the game early primary due to some tenacious defence by our starting group.
The intensity shocked the locals, leaving our guys to capitalise on early forced turnovers, turning them into transition baskets at the other end.
To Houston’s credit they were able to settle and adjust to the Australian pressure, pounding the ball inside to some quality big men.
With the scores starting to level out, AIS captain Hugh Greenwood took over the game reeling off six unanswered points followed by two high quality assists and finishing his assault with a transition 3 pointer.
In line with this, the AIS made adjustments to how to guard the post, and the AIS big men were able to compete with Houston’s big men.
New AIS scholarship holder Daniel Trist was also proving to be effective at both ends of the court, highlighted by a huge block in the dying seconds of the first half which resulted in a big dunk to Owen Odigie at the other end of the court taking us into a 12 point lead at half time, 31-19.
The second half saw both teams trade baskets, with the Houston boys putting together some solid runs only to have the AIS push the lead quickly back out to double digit figures.
A great first up victory, with a final score line of 62-49. Daniel Trist led all scorers with 23, followed by Hugh Greenwood with 18. With a quick turnaround for two games tomorrow, the AIS forward to building on the great platform that was started tonight.
Day 2 of the Men’s Basketball USA Tour saw a big lift in the standard of opposition with back-to-back games against the Houston Hoopsters and Houston Defenders AAU teams.
In the first of the two games against the Hoopsters it was clear within minutes that this was a different beast to the one faced the previous night with the Hoopsters jumping the Institute Men 14-4 and our boys showing signs of being rattled by the physicality of the game.
Unlike our first game of the tournament not only did the Hoopsters have a great inside game but they also demonstrated a great team balance knocking a number of early threes.
Again, AIS captain Hugh Greenwood helped steady the ship for Australia, exciting the crowd with two individual displays of brilliance with creative finishes over bigger players.
Despite closing the gap the AIS men were still showing signs of hesitancy and lacked the tenacity that Australian basketball players are commonly known for. Senior Jackson Hussey was the exception to this rule as he showed some great leadership at the defensive end, revelling in the physical nature of the American style of play.
As much as the boys are adjusting to the style of play, they are also adjusting to the way the game is called over in the States. To their credit, the Australians started to get on top of the Hoopstars team late in the half reeling off eight unanswered points of their own.
After giving up 14 points in the first four minutes the AIS Men were able to completely lock down the Hoopstars for the remaining 12 minutes of the half keeping them to only six points in that time.
The late Australian charge brought the score to 18-12 in favour of Houston in what was shaping up to be an extremely low scoring game.
In the second half, the game opened up with an increased tempo resulting in back and forth scoring for most of the period.
Houston were able to nudge their lead back out to 10 on three separate occasions before the AIS team would claw their way back into the game.
AIS visiting scholarship holder Nick Kay started to get himself involved in the game essentially taking the super dominant Houston big man out of the game. With Houston looking to stall the ball in the final four minutes of the game, the AIS men were forced to foul and send the Houston Hoopstars to the line. To their credit Houston were able to ice the game from this point with some clutch free-throw shooting by their guards, with a final score line of 42-37.
For the Australian team it was a disappointing loss considering we dominated the game in many ways with the exception of the first four minutes. Coach Stacker used this as an opportunity to educate the young Australians.
“The nature of basketball is that quite often the game is decided by two or three minute runs. You just can’t afford to loose focus at this level,” he said.
Shooting was also a major factor. “We had the shots to win the game. Take the positive that we were able to create those shots, but it’s important that we reward ourselves and finish the play off”.
With a short recovery period and a chance to refocus we moved on to the Houston Defenders, another team highly touted in the Houston region. Once again, the size of the Americans was noticeable with two players clocking in just under 6”10 but carrying body mass of around the 120kg mark.
Once again the Houston men hit the court running with number 23 for the Defenders knocking down the first eight points of the game within the first minute. A quick adjustment from Coach Stacker saw Owen Odigie adjust his defensive positioning to hard denial which had an instant impact with the AIS men creating two quick turnovers, and shifting momentum slightly back the other way.
The game was played at a high tempo in the first half, which although more in line with how the game is played in Australia, it was starting to add to the fatigue of the AIS team.
Add to this three early fouls to Hugh Greenwood, and two each to Jackson Hussey and Daniel Trist and we were forced to run with some quick rotations on the bench to make sure the remaining seven players stayed fresh.
Again this game was highlighted by a level of physicality not often seen in our competitions, but this time the boys were able to step up and match the Americans. This was never more evident than when Tyler Hickert and Will Sinclair combined for three consecutive offensive rebounds in a play phase that was eventually finished off by a deep Mitch Norton three pointer.
Once again Jackson Hussey led the way defensively setting the intensity for the rest of the boys to follow. Will Sinclair stamped his authority on the game bodying up to and physically dominating the much bigger Houston post players. His defensive efforts were then rewarded at the opposite end of the floor finishing a nice little post to post set play diagrammed by Coach Stacker in a timeout.
The AIS men continued to close the gap getting it back to one point before a late three pointer by the locals late in the first half gave a half time score line of 31-27.
With some slight adjustments to our offensive structure at half time the AIS men came out and instantly cut the Houston Defenders lead, continuing on and taking a small lead. The quick rotations and depth of the Australian bench started to become a factor as the AIS started to take control of the tempo of the game. Some back and forth basketball saw us carry a two point lead into the last minute of the game.
A missed shot by the Australian team gave the Houston Defenders the ball with 30 seconds left to play. Forcing Houston to take two separate timeouts, the AIS boys showed some trademark Australian defence to local down the locals in the dying seconds with a desperation dive by Daniel Trist right on the buzzer to secure a loose ball in what was an incredibly passionate and hard fought victory for our men.
Final score was 44-42 in our favour with an even spread of scorers and 10 solid contributors for the game.
Next we head to Dallas for another series of back-to-back games before the boys take a well-earned rest day on Monday.