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The Aussie Rollers have finished runners up to Great Britain going down 43-58 in the final of a crucial warm up tournament ahead of the IWBF World Championships. 


Belgium’s Easter Tournament Wheelchair Basketball featured six of the world’s top teams including Australia, Great Britain, Canada, Turkiye, the Netherlands and Italy. 



Tristan Knowles got Australia off to a good start in the final, hitting his first two field goals to give his side a 4-2 advantage before Great Britain took charge. Both sides worked hard to keep each other away from the basket but it was Great Britain’s shots from mid-range that found the bottom of the net while the Rollers would manage just one more field goal for the quarter giving Team GB a 13-6 lead at the first break. 


Australia’s offense flowed better to start the second as they closed within a point off a Tom O’Neill-Thorne shot with 5:45 left, but as would be the story throughout the second and third quarters, Great Britain would stamp out any Rollers mini run with one of their own.


Tristan Knowles led all scorers with 19 while also leading his side with 7 rebounds and 4 assists. Shawn Russell earned a short stint midway through the final quarter producing 4 points and a steal in 3:54 of game time. 


Knowles also finished top points scorer for the tournament averaging 18.5 points per game and led the tournament in three pointers made.


Australia went into the final as underdogs against a perennially strong Great Britain side. The Brits won their pool games by an average margin of 23 points and cruised past Turkiye in the semi final with an 18 point win. 


The Rollers on the other hand had a tougher time of things; they went down to Italy by 10 in their opening game after Turkiye had defeated Italy by 11 in their match. With Turkiye and Italy on one win apiece, Australia faced a must win game in their pool game against Turkiye. 


Not only did the Aussies need to win, they also needed to win by 10 or more in order to have a better points for and against than Italy who finished minus 1 after their two games. 


With Aussie big man Bill Latham pacing the side with 19 points and 13 rebounds and Tristan Knowles scoring 17 points 7 rebounds and 9 assists, Australia defeated Turkiye 63-51 to finish first in their pool, knocking Italy out and setting up a semi final against Canada.


The Rollers must now trim the 15 man squad that went to Belgium down to 12 ahead of the World Championships to be held in Dubai from June 9th-20th. 


On the men’s side 16 teams have been divided into 4 pools with Australia in Group A alongside Italy, Brazil and the United Arab Emirates. In the women’s draw, 2 pools of 6 teams will compete with the Australian Gliders in Group B against Brazil, Canada, China, Spain and Great Britain.