Gliders into Gold Medal Game after SF thriller
The Australian Gliders will play for Gold after a thrilling 40-39 win over the USA in their Semi Final at the 2012 London Paralympic Games overnight.
In what will remember as a classic, the Gliders almost threw away a 10-point lead heading into the final quarter before a Clare Nott bucket with 2:26 on the clock proved the difference, giving the Australians a one-point win.
The win vanishes the demons of the team’s Semi Final defeat to the USA in Beijing, giving the Gliders the opportunity to claim their first Paralympic Gold Medal when they line-up against pre-tournament favourites Germany tomorrow morning (AEST).
It was an arm wrestle in the early exchanges with neither side able to put significant daylight between each other on the scoreboard. Defences dominated, with the rear guard of Australia proving a difficult proposition for the Americans.
With scores level at 26-all going into the main break it would take something special to break the game open and it was the Gliders who made the play at the resumption, scoring the first 10 points of the quarter.
They finished the winning the quarter 12-2, establishing a seemingly unassailable 10-point lead heading into the final period, but were rudely surprised as the USA began to make a late charge.
After seeing only one bucket in the first six minutes of the quarter, the Gliders watched on in horror as the USA reeled off another nine points to take the lead with less than three minutes remaining.
Nott broke through to opening the Gliders account for the quarter and regain the lead with just over two minutes on the clock. It a dramatic finale both teams could not find a way to the basket in the final stages, handing Australia a 40-39 win.
Nott shared top-scoring honours with young gun Amber Merritt (6 rebounds) and three-time Paralympian Kylie Gauci (3 assists) on 8 points.
The focus now turns to the Germany, with the Gliders having their chance to secure their first Paralympic Gold Medal in London.
The Australian Gliders will play Germany in the Gold Medal Game at the 2012 London Paralympic Games at 6:15am AEST on tomorrow morning, with the game to be broadcast on ABC1.