In the team’s sole lead-up tournament to this week’s Championships in Bangkok, the Rollers looked to avenge their opening-game defeat to Canada in the final, defeating the 2012 Paralympic Games gold medallists 68-47 on Sunday.
It was a brilliant defensive display from the Rollers, who restricted the Canadians to just 30 points after the first quarter, with their suffocating pressure on the defensive end sure to stand them in good stead against the region’s best this week.
Slow starts had plagued the Rollers in the Champions Cup and the final was no different, as the Canadian raced to an early lead, but this was reduced to just three points at the first change. Against the team that denied them gold in London last year, the Rollers looked set on revenge, producing a brilliant second period to take a 29-25 lead into the main interval.
After the recommencement it was all Australia, the Rollers dominated all facets of the contest to run out deserved 21-point victors. Justin Eveson was a standout for the Rollers with 16 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists in just 23 minutes on court.
Eveson was well supported by Shaun Norris and Brad Ness (14 points each) and Bill Latham, who finished with 8 points and 10 rebounds.
The win over Canada was even sweeter after the Rollers suffered a narrow 53-52 loss to Canada in the tournament opener on Friday. Leading 28-22 at the half, the Rollers were overrun by the Canadians after the main break and would have to settle for a heart-breaking defeat.
Norris impressed out of gate with 13 points and 9 rebounds, while Latham (11 points and 5 rebounds) and Tristan Knowles (10 points and 3 assists) offered support.
The Rollers didn’t have to wait long to register their first win of the Champions Cup, accounting for host nation Japan the next day 63-48, overcoming a slow start to get the points. The Japanese led 14-6 at the first change, but were thoroughly outplayed from the second quarter onwards.
Eveson produced another amazing stat line in just 20 minutes on court, posting 12 points, 14 rebounds and 7 assists. He found sport in Norris (11 points) and Ness (10 points).
The final round-robin game against South Korea saw another slow start for the Rollers, trailing 23-20 at quarter time. This was quickly erased as the Rollers put on an offensive clinic, scoring 66 points in the remaining three quarters to win 86-54.
Latham was the pick of the bunch, posting 21 points and 4 rebounds, while Norris (13 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists), Eveson (11 points and 8 rebounds) and Knowles (10 points and 3 assists) impressed.
The Rollers now head to Bangkok, Thailand where they will join the Australian Gliders women’s wheelchair basketball team for the 2013 IWBF Asia-Oceania Zone Championships.
For all the latest on the Rollers and Gliders action in Thailand be sure to visit the BA website at www.basketball.net.au.