ROLLERS SPEED PAST JAPAN IN FINAL GAME OF RIO GROUP STAGE

ROLLERS SPEED PAST JAPAN IN FINAL GAME OF RIO GROUP STAGE

Finishing 4-1 in the group stage of the 2016 Paralympic Games following a 68-55 victory over Japan, the Australian Rollers must now await results from the other pool games before their Quarter-Final opponent can be known.

A very impressive defensive display saw Australia dominate Japan from the outset, restricting their opponents to 37% shooting from the field and while ten players hit the scoreboard, none of them were able to inflict any real damage with the top-scorer, Hiroaki Kozai, collecting just nine points.

Conversely, the Rollers shot 52% from the field and did not need to hit any three-pointers, showing a greater intent on attacking the basket and sharing the ball for 26 assists on 32 field goals.

The tandem of Shaun Norris (19 points, six rebounds, seven assists) and Tristan Knowles (ten points, seven rebounds, nine assists) were unstoppable while Brad Ness was highly efficient with 12 points on 6-7 shooting in just eight minutes.

Australia's stifling defence helped them to a 6-0 run to start proceedings as Japan were held scoreless through the first four minutes.

They shot just 3-13 for the first period but were able to reduce the damage on the scoreboard with some strong defence of their own, cutting the margin to seven at the first change.

The Rollers picked up their pace in the second period, looking to beat Japan up the floor and turn simple possessions into fast-break opportunities.

The strategy set up Adam Deans (five points, two boards) for a three-point play while Norris kept the scoreboard ticking over with free-throws of his own as the Japanese tried in vain to slow him down.

That pace transformed the contest into a physical game too with bodies sprawling all over the floor but it suited captain Brad Ness perfectly who knocked down eight quick points to finish the half and give Australia a 14-point lead.

Norris quickly joined Ness in double-figure scoring out of the main break, sparking the Rollers to an 8-0 run to start the third term.

It put the game well beyond doubt for Japan and even though they were able to win the final term 25-19, Australia utilised those minutes to give some beneficial court time to the likes of Matt McShane (two points, one steal) and Tom O'Neill-Thorne (two points, one assist).

The full box score can be found here.

Australia's victory places them momentarily back at the top of Group A but Spain and Turkey will be favourites in their upcoming games against the Netherlands and Canada respectively.

Wins for those countries would drop the Rollers back down the ladder, potentially to third place, so keep an eye on the Basketball Australia social media channels throughout the day for updates on their Quarter-Final opponent.