Crocs conquer New Zealand to claim Oceania Championship

THE Australian Crocs have been crowned the FIBA U17 Oceania Champions in the boys competition after defeating New Zealand by 47 points in the final on Sunday.

Coming into the match as the form side of the tournament, the Aussies were favourites to take out the ultimate prize in the big dance, having bested New Zealand earlier in the week. However Australia’s Tasman neighbours had given the Crocs their biggest challenge of the tournament, and match up well against them, so this was shaping as one of the more intriguing matchups of the tournament.

However, Australia looked immediately stronger than the opposition, firing on the offensive end from the opening tip, winning all four quarters en route to a convincing win to snag the silverware for the 2023 tournament.

Australian Crocs (96) def. New Zealand (49)

The Crocs were simply too strong for New Zealand, who never stood a chance as Australia continuously extended its lead over the course of the match.

The disparity between the two sides is evident in the shooting efficiency, with the Aussies making 64 per cent of their shots in comparison to New Zealand’s 37 per cent. The latter also struggled with long-range shooting, making just 10 per cent of its attempts from behind the arc.

The Crocs looked on from the opening possession, where Jack Whitbourn rolled to the hoop and floated in the first basket of the game. Whether it was drives into the lane, mid-range jumpers or shots from three-point land, it seemed as if the Aussies could not miss, bursting out to a double-digit lead on the scoreboard and never looking back from there.

Although New Zealand could conjure the occasional basket, it was not consistent enough to keep up with Australia. The Crocs were as dynamic as ever with ball in hand, sharing the offensive load to ensure a high-quality shot was put up on every possession. Australia’s dominance culminated in a period of dominance in the second, where it outscored New Zealand 27-8, to essentially put the game to bed before halftime.

Capping off a standout campaign, Roman Siulepa starred again for the Aussies, producing yet another double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds. He shot an accurate 7/11 from the field, and caused all kinds of problems for the opposition. Jacob Furphy top scored for Australia, not shying away from field goal attempts on his way to 21 points, while Whitbourn was also excellent with 12 points and 11 rebounds, with six coming on the offensive end.

For New Zealand, Nic Book led the way with 11 points to be the only double-digit scorer for his side, never abandoning his quest to produce offence for his side.

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