Game 1 - AIS (102) vs JAPAN U/24 (68)
The AIS arrived into a snowy Tokyo on Saturday, March 10th. The team has had a few days to practice and settle into the surrounds here at the Ajinomoto National Training Centre. The facilities, accommodation, food, and hospitality at Japan’s NTC have been impressive.
Tonight we played the first of a 5-game series against the Japan U/24 squad preparing for the 2013 University Games.
The game started at blistering speed and set the tone for the next 40 minutes. The AIS jumped out to an early lead mostly due to a strong inside presence from Bunton, Thompson and Mijovic. Talbot and Blicavs intense defense created some steals and ignited some great team play in transition. The Japanese countered with some tough shots and finishes over some solid AIS defence. It was a high quality first quarter from both teams.
Japan weathered the AIS’s early storm and increased their physicality in the second quarter. The AIS rallied well, picking up their defensive intensity, dominating the boards, and converting in transition to push out to a comfortable lead at the half time break 59-38.
The second half was no different than the first in regards to tempo. Japan continued to push the pace and increase their physicality defensively. The AIS, assisted by strong leadership at the point from Lavey and Donnelly, were able to continue to find ways to get inside points and free throw attempts.
AIS’s solid defence presence started to wear Japan down and as a result the Tute were able to extend the lead at three quarter time to 83-55.
The AIS then pressed on early into the fourth quarter to guarantee the victory. Although a convincing win on the scoreboard it was a gruelling game in regards to the frantic pace and physicality from the opposition.
The AIS will need to recover well overnight and get ready to face it all again tomorrow at 4pm.
Alex Bunton 23 points; 8 rebs
Carley Mijovic 21 points; 9 rebs
Olivia Thompson 16 points; 14 rebs
Sara Blicavs 16 points; 14 rebs
Stephanie Talbot 8 points; 10 assists; 5 steals
Game 2 - AIS (82) vs JAPAN U/24 (72)
Japan came out at blistering speed again this evening and took control of the tempo early. The AIS was forced to take an early timeout, down 6-12. Defensively, Japan had made some significant and effective adjustments overnight and in practice earlier in the day to combat the AIS presence on the interior. They increased their physicality and perimeter ball pressure and as a result the AIS struggled to get into any offensive flow. Japan capitalized on this and converted in transition offense. The AIS weathered the storm early and were able to tie things up at quarter time 20-20.
The second quarter continued in similar fashion and the AIS were unable to get into much flow offensively. Japan relentlessly pushed the ball and put substantial pressure on the AIS's defensive transition. The AIS showed resiliency, although not pretty at times, and were able to continue to get high percentage shots from the inside and from second efforts. After a timeout late in the 2nd quarter the AIS were able to extend their 6 point lead to 10 at the half (43 – 33) based on the inside presence from Bunton and Mijovic and great minutes from Casey Samuels on the perimeter.
The AIS struggled in the second half due to the ball pressure, turning it over 28 times for the game. The AIS did a solid job in defence throughout the 3rd quarter to help keep the lead and finished the quarter with a tight 7 point buffer.
Japan came back at the AIS again early in the fourth quarter after hitting two 3 –point attempts in transition after successive turnovers forcing the AIS to take a timeout. The AIS was able to secure the win based mostly on a great job on the defensive boards and hitting 21/28 from the Free Throw line for the game.
Tomorrow’s game will be much of the same and the AIS will need to combat the physicality and ball pressure more effectively to secure the win and the series.
Carley Mijovic 15 pts, 11 rebs, 3 steals, 3 blocks
Alex Bunton 18 pts, 6 rebs, 3 assists, 2 blocks
Casey Samuels 14 pts, 4 rebs, 3 assists
Stephanie Talbot 4 pts, 9 rebs, 4 assists, 5 steals
Game 1 - AIS (87) vs JAPAN U/24 (61)
Tonight was the AIS’s best performance on tour so far. The AIS opened the game attacking Japan’s pressure with some back screen action. Olivia Thompson and Alex Bunton were impressive in the first quarter which helped the team settle in and set the tone for the rest of the game.
It was a high scoring first quarter 21-28 and the Japan stayed in touch by capitalizing on AIS turnovers and converting in transition throughout the second quarter. After a timeout late in the second quarter the AIS consolidated defensively and pushed out to a 46-34 lead at the half.
The goal at halftime was to extend the lead to 18 without giving Japan an opportunity to shoot themselves back into the game like they had done twice earlier in the game. The AIS defence was strong to finish the quarter and established a 65-45 buffer at three quarter time.
The AIS continued to dominate the defensive boards in the final quarter giving Japan little opportunity for second chance points. Japan fatigued and their shooting percentage dropped significantly due to solid defence from the AIS.
Again the AIS were able to successfully get inside touches for Mijovic, Bunton, and Thompson contributing to the AIS shooting over 50% from the field and 17/26 from the free throw line. Lavey, Donnelly, Garrick, Blicavs & Talbot were all strong contributors on the perimeter. Most impressively, the AIS finished with 21 assists, Donnelly with 6, which was a real improvement in this area from the WNBL season. The AIS was able to win the game and the series with a strong team performance.
Tomorrow is a rest day. Game #4 will be played on Saturday afternoon. The AIS will focus on minimizing turnovers and improving transition defence for the final two games of this series.
Alex Bunton 27 pts, 16 rebs
Carley Mijovic 15 pts, 7 rebs, 3 assists
Maddie Garrick 12 pts, 4 rebs, 3 steals
Olivia Thompson 17 pts, 6 rebs
Stephanie Talbot 4 pts, 9 rebs, 3 assists, 4 steals