Aussies grab gold at Albert Schweitzer

SHOWCASING how strong its young talent stocks are, Australia defeated Serbia by five points in the Albert Schweitzer Tournament final to claim a gold medal in Germany over the weekend.

The Albert Schweitzer Tournament highlights the best young basketball talent each country has to offer, and takes place in Mannheim Germany every two years, with 12 countries competing.

After a hard-fought tournament, Australia booked a spot in the final against Serbia on Saturday thanks to a semi-final victory over Italy. The Aussies had delivered solid performances in all of their outings, and entered the final as favourites.

It was a strong start from the Serbs, jumping out to a 7-0 lead with Australia unable to find easy looks inside and relying on jump shots that were not falling. However, the Aussies steadied as the first quarter rolled on and led by three points at the opening change.

The Aussies continued to keep their noses in front, with highly touted big man Rocco Zikarsky proving a handful for the defence. Serbia could not keep him out of the paint, and he used his seven-foot-four frame to produce easy baskets.

It was a theme for the remainder of the game, with Australia leading by as much as 14 points throughout the match. However, the Serbs began to knock down some three-pointers to erase the deficit in seemingly no time at all.

The Aussies were under the pump in the closing stages of the match, with the lead cut down to just two points late in the match, but held on in the clutch to produce a 71-65 victory and claim gold at the tournament for the first time since 2010.

The finish was sealed by a clutch free throw from Roman Siulepa, after Serbia committed an untimely unsportsmanlike foul.

Zikarsky was named player of the match with 20 points, further demonstrating his powerful standing on the world stage and how bright his future could be.

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