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Australia down New Zealand in a clash of the titan battle

Australia edged out New Zealand with 84-72 score on the third day of the 2023 Federation of International Basketball Association (FIBA) Under 17 Oceania Championship on Wednesday night, October 4, at Sir John Guise Indoor Complex in Port Moresby.

The red-hot Australians are the only team to remain undefeated in the tournament, winning three straight games against Guam, Samoa, and New Zealand to sit comfortably on top of the ladder. The green and gold lads have made a strong statement in the tourney, sending early warning to other contenders of their championship caliber.

In the opening exchange of the game, both teams went firing on all cylinders, leaving everything on the court. The intensity and arm wrestle between the two heavyweights were felt in the first quarter. Australia took an 18-16 lead over New Zealand, ending the opening quarter in style.

The rhythm of the first quarter continued into the second quarter. Both sides were attacking and counter-attacking each other, trying to gain court territory and score points. They were evenly matched in every department. With a little bit of tempo on New Zealand’s side, they leapfrogged Australia by 1 point, taking a 37-36 lead at halftime.

Although Australia swung the momentum in their favor in the third quarter, New Zealand did not shy away. The Emus tried to use their experience and control the game, but the determined Kiwis continued to mount pressure on the Aussies. Both sides battled fiercely, but Australia managed to take a slight 63-60 lead over New Zealand at the end of the third quarter.

The momentum of the game maintained its rhythm from the first quarter to the final quarter. Both teams emptied their tanks, throwing everything they had at each other in the fourth quarter. Australia picked up their ascendency and increased the lead to 12 points, defeating the courageous New Zealand outfit with an 84-72 victory in a grandstand finish.

It was a neck-and-neck match right from the get-go to the full-time siren. The pace of the game was similar to grand final stuff. Real basketball entertainment was put on display. The Aussies and Kiwis lived up to the hype and expectations of the fans, delivering an enthralling basketball spectacle that left the staunch fans on the edge of their seats.

Australian coach, Robbie McKinlay said he was happy for the win, but the reigning champions need to be at their best, should they wish to defend their title.

“We are happy with the win. New Zealand is a great team. They have a lot of depth and great players. They really stretched us out. They are a tough team and we have a lot of respect for them as a basketball team,” coach McKinlay said.

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