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Australia’s men’s wheelchair basketball team, the Rollers, have claimed gold at the 2019 Asia Oceania Championships in Thailand and secured their place at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics. Meanwhile the women’s team, the Gliders, won silver and also booked a ticket to Japan after missing the 2016 Paralympics in Rio.


Australia was too strong for Korea in Saturday’s final after a hard fought semi final win over Iran the day before. Korea were slow out of the gate, still coming off the high of beating the previously undefeated Japan in their semi final. 

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They had no answer for Rollers’ captain Shaun Norris who was unstoppable in the first quarter, scoring of 15 of his team’s first 19 points and providing the assists for the other four points before subbing off to help give the Aussies a 23-8 advantage at the first break.


From there the Rollers remained in control as coach Craig Friday rotated his players with all 12 players seeing court time and eventually winning 62-45.


“It’s amazing, securing our spot for the Paralympics is huge, but there’s going to be a lot more hard work to come leading up to Tokyo 2020.” said Wollongong Roller Hawk Luke Pople.


“It feels good. The format of the tournament was better this time around because we got to play all the top teams in our area.” added Roller Hawks captain Brett Stibners.


“Our semi final against Iran was a really tough game, they pushed us the whole game. So it’s good the team has qualified for Tokyo. Now the real hard work starts because we as a team still feel we are well off Team USA and Great Britain.”

Photo Credit:Gail Latham


Stibners had limited game time throughout the tournament but lead all scorers in the Rollers’ 92-40 quarter final win over Malaysia with 21, and finished the competition averaging 6.1 points, 1.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game on 40.1% shooting.


“There is plenty of competition for spots for the team for Tokyo especially in my position. I didn’t shoot the ball as well as I would have liked but felt I contributed in other ways.” says Stibners.


Pople’s best game was also against Malaysia, leading the team in assists with 8, along with 8 points and 6 rebounds.


The road to Tokyo will see the Rollers’ Australian based players attend a series camps before the side tours to America in June.

The side’s overseas based players like Stibners go back to club basketball.

“My team is middle of the table at the moment. So we have got a couple of important games coming up to end the year.” says Stibners.


Meanwhile the Gliders have also booked their place at Tokyo 2020 after their semi final win over Japan. Ultimately finishing runner up to China 31-53 in the final, the Gliders return to the Paralympics after failing to qualify for Rio in 2016.


Australia was too good for Japan in the three games they played but couldn’t get a win against China, the closest they came was in their first game where they went down 43-45.


The Roller Hawks’ Hannah Dodd played over 20 minutes in each of the Gliders’ six games.