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September 12, 2012

Gliders win London Paralympic silver

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

2012 Summer Paralympics

Trafalgar Square, London - London 2012 - countdown clock.jpg

Newest 2012 Paralympic stories

The Australian Gliders pose for a picture.
Image: Bidgee.

London, England — The Australian women’s national wheelchair basketball team — also known as the Gliders — ended their 2012 Summer Paralympic campaign on Friday night with a silver medal. The Australians lost to Germany, 44–58 in front of a capacity crowd of 12,985 at the North Greenwich Arena. There was ample support from a noisy crowd yelling “Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!” When the commentator asked what team fans were supporting, it was Australia that got the loudest cheer.

Australia beat Germany twice in Sydney before coming to London. The Gliders’ quest for Paralympic gold medals began last week with a narrow 52–50 defeat of Brazil. The Aussies then crushed Great Britain 51–24. Australia had a loss to Canada 50–57, but bounced back to win against the Netherlands, 58–49. This advanced Australia to the quarter final, where the Gliders met and defeated Mexico 62–37. Finally, they defeated the USA on Thursday in a 40–39 thriller.

Sarah Stewart once again took the tap for Australia, and once again lost. The Germans took the first shot at goal and missed. They took an offensive rebound but missed again. Cobi Crispin then racked up the first score, assisted by Kylie Gauchi. She was also fouled by Germany’s Gesche Schünemann, and received a free throw, but missed, and the Germans got the rebound. However, a German team turnover and a personal foul brought the ball back to the Australian paint, but Crispin again missed, and the Germans again took the rebound. Bridie Kean took a defensive rebound and Kylie Gauchi, unaccountably left by herself, easily scored. Over the next few minutes, Gauchi would take another unsuccessful, shot herself, and assist Katie Hill with a scoring shot. She was completely undisturbed at having to take on bigger opponents. A goal by Clare Nott brought the score to 10–4, but there followed a bad series of plays that saw Germany score ten unanswered points, and the quarter time score was 12–16.

The second quarter started with the Australians drawing a foul. Clare Nott took the shot, but missed. However Cobi Crispin took the rebound and made the shot, In the process, she drew another foul She also missed, passing up the opportunity put the Gliders only one point down. The German team seemed to be shooting no better; they also missed their next shot, and Amber Merritt took the rebound. This too came to nothing, as she turned the ball over, allowing Germany to score.

Amber Merritt took the next shot for the Gliders. She not only missed, she overbalanced and fell backwards onto the floor, fortunately without hitting her head too hartd. Soon after, she was subbed off. The Germans scored, bringing the score to 12–18, but the Gliders were unable to respond. Clare Nott took a shot from the paint that missed, and the Germans took the rebound. They too missed, and Cobi Crispin took the rebound, but then turned the ball over. Sarah Vinci stole it back, and scored. A German miss and a foul saw the ball in Kylie Gauchi’s hands again. She missed but Cobi Crispin took the rebound and scored.Then followed a dismal sequence of play in which a series of turnovers saw German score eight unanswered points, taking their lead to 10. This was ended when Bridie Kean received a couple of free throws, but she only scored one point. Intense Australian defensive pressure continued to harry the Germans, causing a series of turnovers and missed opportunities, but only with seconds left to go in the quarter did a steal by Bridie Kean lead to Cobi Crispin making a basket, giving a half time score of 19–26.

The third quarter started with Germany scoring twice, while Kylie Gauchi and Clare Nott missed shots. Sarah Stewart stole the ball and scored. A shot by Shelley Chaplin brought the score to 23–30. A series of turnovers and missed shots followed before Germany finally scored with 4:39 left on the clock. Kylie Gauchi then made a spectacular three point shot. Despite Gauchi being a two point player, this was her second three pointer of the 2012 Paralympic Games, No other member of the Gliders successful scored even one. Relentless defence and poor shooting by both sides kept the score at 26–30 until Clare Nott scored inside the paint in the last minute; but in the final seconds Germany scored again. At the final change, the score was 28–34.

In the final quarter, the Gliders attempted to fight back. While there appeared to be enough time, the clock was now against them. Missed shots caused the deficit to increase to eight points . For a time, it see-sawed between six and eight points. Then, with the score at 40–48, the Gliders defence started to crumble, while their shooting, especially from the free throw line, remained problematic. With little over a minute to go, the difference reached 14 points, and people started talking about Rio. The final score was 44–58.

Leading scorers for the Gliders for the series were Amber Merrit with 40 field goals and 3 points from free throws; Cobi Crispin with 33 field goals and 6 points from free throws; and Kylie Gauchi, with 24 two-point field goals, and two three-point field goals. The Gliders consistently outscored their opponents, with 24.3 points per game compared with 19.4.

The Gliders flew out from London on Monday.


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