Victoria Metropolitan Under 18s claim both titles at the AusChamps

VICTORIA Metropolitan doubled up for wins in both the Men’s and Women’s National Championship competitions, snatching victory in a pair of remarkable comebacks to claim both trophies at the tournament.

The Metro men’s side overcame a 17-point deficit in the second quarter to topple South Australia 74-64 and regain the National trophy. Up against the swift outside attack of South Australia Metro, the Victorians were bombarded by threes in an unrelenting quarter-and-a-half display. A 32-8 run after that completely switched the momentum, with the South Australian side pushing to the very end after relinquishing the lead.

Josh Giddey proved the star for Vic Metro with 31 points, nine rebounds and five steals in an big-time performance on both sides of the paint, with the likes of Zac Taylor (10 points) and Paul Tsapatolis (nine) instrumental in keeping the margin manageable early on. Marcus Windhager (nine points, three assists) provided some grunt off the bench alongside Riley Simmons to thwart SA’s ball movement and scoring.

Crediting a shift to the 2-1-2 press, Vic Metro Coach Darren Perry said a call to “(back) each other” spurred his side to their incredible second half.

“We just talked about at half time that we weren’t playing hard enough, we weren’t backing each other and didn’t play our defence,” Perry said. “We just asked for effort and whatever happened was going to happen. “We found some success in the 2-1-2 and we just stuck with it – we had some great individual plays and some great defence and you don’t expect to run over teams in the second half like that… but it was a great win.”

In another come from behind effort, Vic Metro’s women’s team triumphed 72-51 in a hard slog against Queensland South to complete the Victorian double. Trailing by 13 points in the first quarter, the Big V built a revival on a typically even team effort. Leaders Gemma Potter (14 points, nine rebounds) and Leia Hanafin (nine points, six assists, five rebounds) were crucial to the early fightback, while Casey Valenti-Paea (13 points), Charlise Dunn (12) and Emily Sewell (10) ensured that the Victorians had plenty of scoring versatility – as had been their strength all tournament.

Vic Metro Coach Reece Potter lauded his side’s “big plays” in the second half after some defensive adjustments, while also acknowledging the depth required to win such tournaments.

“They had a really big time second half – I thought Leia Hanafin was unbelievable, with deflections, blocked shots and made some really big plays. Gemma Potter made some big plays as well and I think everyone followed,” Potter said. “That’s what we kept preaching to the girls – we run deeper than them. “They’ve had some players play 40 minutes but we’ve barely had any who played over 30, so we’ve really rotated well. We go 10-deep and that’s the great strength of Vic Metro.”

In other results, Victoria Country Women finished third after taking out a 68-67 overtime win over New South Wales Metro, rebounding well from their disappointing semi-final defeat. Meanwhile, Victoria Country Men lost its final tournament game against Queensland South 82-84, with the result seeing it finish sixth overall.

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