Crocs snap up huge wins to open account at Oceania Championships

THE Australian Crocs have started the 2023 FIBA U17 Oceania Championships with a bang, claiming a pair of big wins on the opening two days of the tournament, which is taking place in Papua New Guinea.

Australia has always been a powerhouse side in the Oceania group of these tournaments, and justified those claims with a pair of dominant performances on Monday and Tuesday respectively.

Kicking things off, the Crocs were as emphatic as ever with a 119-point win over Guam at Sir John Guise Arena on Monday. Australia never allowed the opposition to score more than nine points in a quarter, while putting the foot down on the other end.

There was a clear difference in quality between the two sides, and Australia firmed its credibility as favourites to win the entire competition with a dominant performance on the opening day.

During the match, Australia dominated from the outset, jumping out to an early lead thanks to some dominance on the glass, tight-knit defence and easy-going offence. The lead at the first change stood at a whopping 23 points, essentially putting the game to bed as the Crocs were ruthless en route to a triple-digit win.

Roman Siulepa and Jack Whitbourn led the way for the Aussies, posting double-doubles in the first half in what was a dominant outing for many players. Siulepa was simply outstanding with 20 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists and five steals, further showcasing himself as one to watch in Australian basketball moving forward. Goc Malual top scored with 22 points in a tremendous offensive showing.

The following day, the Aussies backed it up with another huge win, this time getting the better of Samoa and snagging another significant margin in the process. Samoa also came into Tuesday’s game on the back of a day one victory, but was thoroughly outclassed by an Australian side that is firing on all cylinders at the moment.

Despite entering the game with some momentum, the Samoans were outplayed by the Crocs from the opening minute, unable to slow down Australia’s offence and trailing by 19 at quarter time. An improved effort saw Samoa match Australia’s output in the second term, keeping the margin at the same in an encouraging period.

However, the second half completely belonged to the Aussies, who tore the game apart with a plethora of offensive options when it came to scoring the ball, while also working extremely hard defensively to ensure the opposition did not get away a clean look. In the end, a 57-point win reflected how well Australia has been firing to start the tournament.

Siulepa was again at the forefront of the action in another win for the Crocs, posting a game-high 24 points on 10/17 shooting from the field, finding plenty of buckets inside the paint. Nash Walker (20 points), Emmett Adair (19 points, 11 rebounds) and Malual (15 points, 13 rebounds) were all terrific as well.

Australia’s next game comes against New Zealand tonight, as the Crocs look to go three from three in a powerful start to the Oceania Championships.

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