Updated: Mar 17
The Emerging Boomers demolished Israel to take the bronze medal in the men’s basketball competition with a commanding 86 – 69 win.
The bronze medal win ends a great Universiade for Australia’s basketballers, following the Emerging Opal’s back-to-back gold medals in the women’s tournament.
The two sides were meeting for the second time in the tournament having battled it out in the opening pool game of the tournament. Israel totally dominated that encounter 92-64, however the bronze medal game was a different story.
The UniRoos, having benefitted from the week of tournament play and only falling to Ukraine by two points in the semi-final, came out firing, scoring the opening 12 points of the game and going into quarter time with a 24-9 lead.
Australia carried on the momentum into the second quarter and by half-time the lead had blown out to 22 points.
Coming out of the half-time break it appeared that the maturity and toughness of the Israeli team would start to have an impact, scoring the first 6 points of the third term and reducing the lead to 14 points before Australia countered to push the lead to 16 points at three quarter time.
Any chance of a fourth quarter comeback by Israel was put to a stop by Dejan Vasiljevic. The University of Miami guard pouring in 10 fourth quarter points to give him a game-high 33.
Vasiljevic was well supported by captain Jack White (Duke University) who had 11 points and 9 rebounds while his on-court leadership proved influential. Centre Will Magnay (Open Universities Australia) was a force in the paint recording 3 blocked shots to go with 7 points and 7 rebounds.
Head coach Robert Beveridge was simply ecstatic with the UniRoos ability to come out of the tournament with a well-deserved medal.
“I am absolutely stoked for the boys right now,” said Beveridge.
“Our expectation has always been to get a medal, and to be able to walk away with a bronze, I’m just so happy for them.”
“We had a disappointing loss against Ukraine in the semi-final, and we got our asses kicked against Israel in game one. But we’ve come together as a group in a short period of time and played so well together tonight. The improvement has been tremendous.”
On the turnaround in performance between the start of the tournament and the bronze medal game, Beveridge put it down to the preparation and the lessons they learned from the first encounter.
“It was the mindset that changed. Israel were so good [in game one]. They set the standard for the tournament in that game.”
“It was important for us that we were not bullied. No backward steps. This is who we are as Australians. Tonight, we threw the first punch and just kept going.”
The bronze medal is only Australia’s second ever medal in the men’s basketball at the Summer Universiade after they claimed the silver medal in 2015.
It also marks the UniRoos ninth medal at Napoli 2019, joining the championship winning Emerging Opals team on the medal list.