Ford BALLIN’24 delivers a sensational week of basketball

The Ford BALLIN’24 Melbourne series finished on Friday night with over 30,000 fans attending John Cain Arena across four massive days.

The Ford BALLIN’24 Melbourne series finished on Friday night with over 30,000 fans attending John Cain Arena across four massive days.

A trailblazing initiative developed in collaboration with Basketball Australia, TEG Sport and Visit Victoria set new heights in attendance, games played and featured teams in a single tournament.

Australia’s six senior national teams competed in the same series for the first time, with the Boomers, Seven Consulting Opals and Gangurrus Men’s and Women’s 3x3 teams facing China and the Rollers men and Gliders women wheelchair teams playing Japan.

Soon-to-be triple Olympian Marianna Tolo was full of praise for the basketball bonanza.

“It’s been so cool just to see everyone, you don’t ever get that chance to have the 3x3 teams, the Rollers, the Gliders, the Boomers there with us,” she said.

“It’s been really special but I think you can see how connected we are in that we always are hanging around each other and really enjoying our time together,"

“So that’s been nice to see who helps get us on the court and to get us to where we need to go. And then having crowds turn up like we did tonight. Melbourne’s fantastic with their support of basketball and it’s really great to be able to come here and see that many people supporting us.”

Ford BALLIN’24 was a resounding success on and off the court, with Australian teams recording a cumulative 25-4 win-loss record over the tournament.

The Boomers utilised games against China to rotate personnel and develop depth to the selection process ahead of Brian Goorjian.

It was Jack McVeigh who stole the show in Game 1.

The Tasmania Jack Jumper was a standout with 24 points, 9/13 including 75% on six three pointers. The Boomers exhibited a selfless game style on the way to a 107-87 win against China.

NBA Finals duo Dante Exum and Josh Green returned to the line-up in Game Two alongside Jock Landale, who was strategically rested in the opener. Australia started with the tandem of Patty Mills and Josh Giddey at the guard positions and flexed multiple looks in the second half in the way to a 91-58 win.

For the Opals, all eyes were on 43-year-old Lauren Jackson as she continued her charge towards a historic fifth Olympics campaign. A modern rivalry between the Australia and China in women’s basketball continued and it was the Opals who made a statement with two dominant wins against the FIBA ranked No.2 ranked team.

The Opals shot the lights out at John Cain Arena in Game 1 and Melbourne got a first-hand look at 19-year-old guard Isobel Borlase who diced China on the way to 19 points, 3 assists. Australia were methodical on their way to a 94-66 win.

Team China came with a greater intensity in Game 2 but the diversity of scoring options for the Opals reigned supreme. Amy Atwell closed an impressive campaign with 17 points, Jackson hit a streak in the second half to finish with 13 points and Cayla George was her play making best with four rebounds, six assists in a 91-63 win.

Both Gangurrus men’s and women’s 3x3 teams competed against China across the series totalling an impressive unbeaten campaign across all games.

Extra focus was layered on the women’s team, who made history earlier this year by becoming the first 3x3 basketball team from Australia to qualify for the Olympics.

The personnel from the Olympic Qualifiers in Utsunomiya reported for duty, with Anneli Maley, Lauren Mansfield, Marena Whittle and Ally Wilson rolling through the line-up alongside Emma Clarke and Chloe Bibby.

The Gangurrus men battled Olympic-bound China and produced some of the biggest highlights of the tournament. Illawarra Hawks star Will ‘Davo’ Hickey continues to shine at international level and put China on blast with a tomahawk dunk to seal an OT win on the opening day.

The Gangurrus program also had the opportunity to run some new names alongside regulars Hickey, Todd Blanchfield and Joshua Davey with a talented cast of players from the NBL pathway.

In the wheelchair basketball, the Rollers locked into a week-long series with Japan and celebrated the chosen 12 for the Paris 2024 Paralympics after Game Four on Friday afternoon.

Two history-making champions featured in the series with Tristan Knowles and Shaun Norris selected for their sixth Paralympic Games following Ballin’24.

The Gliders program poured minutes into a new wave of players with development and regeneration the priority.

Captain Georgia Munro-Cook continues to star for Australia and has found chemistry with Hannah Dodd as the one-two punch in the offensive strike power for the Gliders. Veteran Shelley Matheson was a standout with her ability to position and create.

The Boomers will head to Abu Dhabi for the USA Basketball Showcase against the USA and Serbia on July 16 and 17.

The Opals turn focus to the Spain Invitational Cup on July 22 and 23.

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