For the Aussies, the scorers were plenty, with Alex Wilson dropping a game-high 22 points, while Casey Samuels finished with 17 points. Stephanie Talbort added 16 points in a performance that had everyone talking. Her 12 assists and 12 rebounds gave her a rare triple double, a result that will have opposing coaches scouting. Carley Mijovic chipped in with 14 points.
For the Japanese side, Mirai Tamura finished with 19 points, while Kanako Masuoka had an impressive 18 points, shooting 50 per cent from beyond the arc.
The Aussies jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead after the tip, and after Japan steadied, the Gems again pushed and led by as much as 14-7 mid-way though the first. Japan closed the opening stanza on the offensive however, going on a 14-0 run with the Gems unable to convert at the other end, trailing by 21-14 in the dying stages. A couple of late baskets bridged the gap to three at the first break.
The teams traded baskets in a close second term. Japan managed to stretch the lead to six mid-way through the period, but couldn’t extend. Vanessa Panousis enjoyed a purple patch before half time, piling on seven points in three minutes to give the Aussies the lead late, before the scores were all tied up at 36 apiece heading into the change rooms.
The third term was a genuine arm-wrestle. A high-scoring period, the Japanese were firing from range through Masuoka and Tamura. The Aussies countered through the efforts of Talbot and Samuels. Trailing by one with a minute to play, Samuels scored before Wilson buried a big three-point bucket to see the Gems out to a four-point lead.
Japan wouldn’t go away in the final term, but the depth and strength of the Aussies saw them wrestle an 11-point lead near the five-minute mark. The Japanese side wasn’t able to keep their scoreboard ticking over as the Gems stretched it to as many as 94-74 late in the game. To their credit, Japan fought till the end, making up six points late, before handing the Aussies the 14-point win.
The Gems were dominant on the glass, winning the count 51-30, with Darcee Garbin reeling in 14 boards. With the game close, it was the strength and size of the Aussies that helped secure the victory.
The Gems face the might of Spain tomorrow. Both sides are 2-0 having beaten the same two teams, Argentina and Japan, and by similar margins. This will be a big test for the Gems who will be looking to advance to the next stages with a squeaky clean record. The Australia V Spain match-up tips off on Sunday morning at 3:15am AEST. Keep track of the Gems results and news from the tournament at www.lithuania2013.fiba.com.
Australian Gems 96 (Wilson 22, Samuels 17, Talbot 16, Mijovic 14) defeated Japan 82 (Tamura 19, Masuoka 18, Kawamura 17)