IKF AOKC Day Five – cross finals day
Cross-finals today determined the match ups for tomorrow’s final ranking games.
New Zealand met Macau in the day’s first game with both teams aiming to finish the tournament in fifth place. Although New Zealand asserted control early via pace, power and domination in the rebound, ensuring Macau never really threatened, the Kiwis’ lack of shooting accuracy was a source of frustration for coach Mark Garrett, particularly against a team that offered less defensive pressure than the others his players have encountered this week. Rosa Cooper was again a major scoring threat, notching five for the game. Meanwhile, her team mates in the other division were making much harder work of finding the korf, as a consequence of which they spent around 40 of the 50 minutes in the attack. By the end, despite the inaccuracy, New Zealand sealed an easy 17-5 victory.
To establish who would meet New Zealand to decide fifth place tomorrow, Malaysia and Korea took the court next. Both have made good progress this week. In this contest, though, Korea was never a serious threat. Malaysia’s Randy Ho Kang Lip combines strength in the rebound with a reliable shot. His eight goals made a major contribution to his team prevailing here. For Korea, although Hyun Joo Jo scored seven, he also missed three penalties, which Malaysia doubly punished each time with a goal soon after. Malaysia’s 21-12 win sets up an interesting play-off tomorrow.
Indonesia and Japan had their final game today, deciding the ninth and tenth rankings, and will not feature tomorrow. Japan had the edge all game as youngster Ren Nagai showed what a prospect he is, scoring eight goals. Exhibiting much better form than yesterday, Indonesia never let the deficit grow to more than two goals. Both teams were afflicted by missed penalties, with Indonesia missing four and Japan two. For five long minutes at the end of the game, Indonesia was just one goal adrift, fighting desperately to bring the scores level. In the final minute Japan scored to extend the lead, Indonesia replied to cut it back again, then Japan had the final say to clinch ninth place by 18-16.
Game Four was the first semi-final, and ended up as one of the best games of the tournament. Australia started well, taking a three goal lead, then Hong Kong turned up the intensity to claw it back to even at 6-6, before Australia edged in front again for a half-time score of 10-8. After 33 minutes, Hong Kong briefly took a two goal lead of its own, to the delight of the crowd, but that only lasted for a minute as Craig Miller converted first a free pass then a penalty. After that, Hong Kong never took the lead again, although with three minutes left to play, the difference was just a single goal. Three quick goals, to Adam Robertson, then two to Josh Berney, put it beyond doubt and Australia remains unbeaten, living to fight for gold tomorrow, by a margin of 21-16.
Contesting the other place in the final, China and Chinese Taipei fought out the last match of the day. While China scored first and then led briefly by 2-1, after that Chinese Taipei stepped up and dominated as they do so emphatically. Captain Ricky Wu led the way with six goals, though he is also involved in making opportunities for his team mates, and Ping-fong Chen and Chen-yu Kao also both scored six each. At 21 minutes, leading by ten goals via a scoreline of 15-5, Chinese Taipei had essentially sealed the victory. Neither team relaxed, though, and Chinese Taipei even staggered its practise of substituting all eight starters just after half time, giving its starting players more minutes. China did manage to find the basket, but the final score was 38-19, so Chinese Taipei will meet Australia for gold and China will play Hong Kong for bronze tomorrow.