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Australia’s men’s and women’s wheelchair basketball teams have qualified for the 2018 World Cup with the men’s side, the Rollers, going undefeated to claim gold and the women’s team, the Gliders, bouncing back after a slow start to the tournament to claim silver.


Photo courtesy of Pablo Jimenez

The Rollers cruised through the round games winning by an average margin of 64 points with Roller Hawks big man Michael Auprince starring in the side’s opening game with 21 points.  The Rollers then made short work of Hong Kong in the quarter finals winning 102-10 and securing their place at next year’s World Cup.


The Rollers comfortably accounted for Korea in the semi final, 81-50, while in the other semi final, Iran upset Japan to book an unlikely gold medal match up.


Although struggling to take their opportunities at times, the Rollers lead by 16 at the first change but Iran stayed with the Aussies in the second quarter to trail by 12 at the main break. But Australia’s depth shone through in the third quarter as the Rollers pulled away to a 23 point advantage by three quarter time before eventually running out 80-54 winners.  


“By far the greatest group I have ever played alongside,” said Auprince at the conclusion of the tournament.


“No egos, no expectations. We played our roles and came together as a unit.”


Roller Hawk Brett Stibners scored 10 points in the final and paid tribute to his club teammates.


“Luke (Pople) and Macca (Michael Auprince) made big contributions throughout the tournament,” said Stibners.


“The stand out players for us during the tournament were Tom O’Neill-Thorne and Jannick Blair. Both made the All-Star 5.”


“The coaching staff were happy with our progress but were quick to point out we still have a long way to go and are still probably 15 to 20 points off of the USA.”

“So we’ll have a lot of work to do before the World Championships next year.”

Photo courtesy of Pablo Jimenez

Meanwhile the Gliders’ tournament got off to a shaky start against China, suffering a 53-44 loss to the host nation on Day 1.


The side, which included Roller Hawk Hannah Dodd, bounced back in the remaining round games with a 75-59 win over Japan and a massive 100 point win over Iran.


The Aussies were again too good for Japan in the semi final, winning 71-41 to book a spot in the Gold Medal game against China. While the match remained close for much of the contest, the Chinese once again had the Australians’ measure, running out 57-46 winners.