Junior Bendigo Braves players Piper Dunlop and Dyson Daniels both finished with gold medals at the FIBA Under-15 Oceania Championships.
Both the girls and boys Australian teams defeated New Zealand in their final matches of the tournament to be crowned as the champions.
The Australian girls finished the basketball tournament undefeated and were too strong for NZ, outclassing their neighbours from across the ditch by 80 points in the final game.
Australia had a strong start in the first quarter, leading 24-5 and backed it up with a repeat performance in the second quarter by extending the lead to 42 points at half-time.
The momentum continued during the third quarter and into the fourth, where they continued to increase their lead and finished with a solid 80-point advantage at the final siren.
Piper Dunlop was one of Australia’s top performers with an overall +19 efficiency (a measurement of a players’ on-court defensive and offensive contributions) with 14 points, six rebounds and three assists.
The team’s head coach Tracy York was impressed with the level of commitment by all of the players on the team.
"Our mantra is to respect the opposition, and we need to be disciplined to do our work," York said.
"We're excited for the chance to create history in Australia, and it was a solid effort by all 12 players. They are an unselfish group and probably one of the best young groups I've had in my time."
The Australian boys claimed victory over New Zealand 61-58 and were eager to do so following an earlier two-point loss the first time they met during the group stage of the tournament.
The New Zealand boys had a strong start to the final with a five-point lead at the end of the first quarter, and extended it to fourteen at half-time.
An in-form New Zealand continued to control the court and finished the third quarter with a nine-point lead going into the final quarter of the tournament.
In true Australian spirit the boys didn’t give up and came back fighting for the win, despite the reality of being behind on the scoreboard.
After missing a three-point shot with around two minutes left on the clock, Bendigo’s Dyson Daniels countered with a swift offensive rebound which was backed up with a two-point shot that levelled the scores 55-55.
New Zealand quickly clawed back to a three-point lead with with around one minute left on the clock.
The Australians responded with a series of free-throws by Michael Walker and a layup from Sejr Deans to take a one-point lead on the scoreboard with just 17 seconds remaining on the clock to secure the win.
Daniels was one of Australia’s top performers with an overall +12 efficiency with 15 points, seven rebounds and one steal.
The team’s head coach Nathan Cooper-Brown praised the strong performance of his team and the level of competition displayed by the New Zealand team throughout the tournament.
"We feel blessed to get over the line, New Zealand has played fantastic all tournament, and we had two hard-fought games with them," Cooper-Brown said.
“We're proud of what the guys accomplished here."
Both teams now qualify to compete at the FIBA under-16 Asian Championships in 2019 after finishing within the top two teams at the under-15 Oceania Championships in Papua New Guinea.
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