Rollers win heart-stopper

The Rollers defeat Germany to take out the IWBF 2024 Easter Tournament in Blankenberge, Belgium.

Australia’s Rollers overcame Euro-powerhouse Germany in a 52 – 48 heart stopper to take out the IWBF 2024 Easter Tournament in Blankenberge, Belgium.

The Rollers outlasted a determined Germany with a defensive hold and IWBF Tournament All Star Bill Latham put the finishing touches on an emotive win for the Rollers.

Head Coach Brad Ness, a five-time Paralympic player trusted the process in the final moments.

“It’s pleasing because we were able to win several close games in the qualifying tournament back in January so to be able to do that again in this final continues to build confidence in our playing style.”

“The team now has the belief that no matter what teams throw at us we are able to grind out 40 minutes of Rollers basketball that will get the job done.”

Bill Latham (15 PT– 17 REB) was a weapon of mass production in the decider with versatility at either end of the deck. It was fitting that the final touches came from Latham – who converted free throws to put the Rollers up by four with 13 seconds to go.

Guard Frank Pinder rounded out a strong campaign with an influential presence in the finale. Pinder was instrumental in the frontline pressing combination that pulled the Rollers into the game after Germany’s hot start.  

Post-game, Pinder was also acknowledged alongside Latham in the IWBF Easter Tournament All Star 5.

An evergreen Tristan Knowles (17PT – 6 AST) was important in the finale and the Wollongong based veteran looks in form with a 6th Paralympics in his sights.

Amidst other key performances, Tom O’Neill-Thorne played a part with 11 points and Eithen Leard continues to find consistent minutes as playmaker. Jannik Blair was impactful with 5 points on limited minutes.

Shaun Norris played important minutes and is likely to join Knowles for an incredible 6th appearance at the Paralympics in August.

“The main part is we want to play a style of basketball that is fun to be a part of, where everyone plays a part. The vibe around the group is one of solid mateship that has galvanised this group.”

“Some of the players will remain in Europe while over half have come back to Australia to prepare for the upcoming NWBL season which will play a major part in our preparation for Paris.”

The next step for the Rollers will be a period of professional league play before the squad will regroup in Australia for a series of friendlies and a staging camp in early August 2024.

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