Big underdogs, the Australian U17 basketball team handed the USA their first ever loss at the world championships
By
Ann Odong

Source:
Zela
2 Jul 2016 - 8:49 AM  UPDATED 2 Jul 2016 - 9:38 AM

The Australian Sapphires defeated the United States 73-60 in the FIBA Under-17 World Championships to claim a place in the gold medal match early Sunday morning. 

It was a win that came out of the blue.  The Sapphires, who had never medalled in the U17 World Championships, came up against a USA team who had a 28-0 record at the tournament and were three time defending champions.  

But from tip-off, Australia showed they were in the fight. 

From there the Sapphires held the advantage led by monster games from Jazmin Shelley (23 points) and Ezi Magbegor (10 rebounds, 4 blocks) and Abby Cubillo (4 assists).

Australia was strong in the paint and displayed some stellar shooting. 

And defensively they were resolute keeping the United States to just 60 points, 14 points below their tournament average.  

Australian Opals coach Brendan Joyce was keeping an eye on the potential future stars and couldn't contain his excitement.  

It was the first time Australia had qualified for semi finals, let a lone a final. 

While it has already been a historic tournament for Shannon Seebohm and the team, the task is not yet completed and they will take on Italy in the final on Sunday morning at 5am AEST. 

If they win the world championship, the Sapphires will join the Opals (2006) and the Gems (1993) as as world title holders and complete Australia's record at all three levels.