Mudgee basketball star Jordan Woolmer and the Australian Goannas deaf basketball team are Asia Pacific champions after dispatching the home nation, Chinese Taipei, 59-36 in the gold medal match on October 10.
Their road to the final included dominant wins over China, India, and Iran to top pool B, before a win over Japan in the semi final set up a date with rivals Chinese Taipei.
Australia entered the gold medal match with a degree of uncertainty and nervousness despite having dispatched of Taipei fairly easily at the recent World Deaf Basketball Championships.
Mudgee’s Jordan Woolmer said he was extremely proud of the way the team performed.
“We were probably the only team who came into the tournament with a focus on team defence and it definitely paid off,” he said.
“Other teams were putting up 60 to 100 points a game and we held teams to 50 points.
“I think everyone was nervous heading into the games, we were up against three unknown opponents.
“China turned out to be a big physical side and Chinese-Taipei had four new players into their starting line-up who were not at World Championships.
“Just happy that all the effort has paid off for everyone on the team from the coaching staff, medical staff and the players. “
Taipei had a hard fought, tough encounter against China in their semi-final which went to over time and in that contest were fast,
skilled and displayed their two big forwards, so the Goannas expected a tough, close game in the final.
The opening exchanges were extremely tight but Australia gradually gained more ascendancy as the quarter progressed.
Three pointers from Morgan Williams and Sam Cartledge allowed the Goannas to skip away to a 9-4 lead.
Their offensive play was supported by some tight and strong defence and transition, causing Taipei to make a number of errors and turn the ball over.
Australia continued their dominance and ended the quarter with a massive 21-4 lead to set the tone for the rest of the match.
The second quarter was a lot more free flowing for the host nation, bucketing 11 points, but they were unable to stifle the Australians at the defensive end, the lead still 19 at the long break.
At the start of the third Taipei began the better of the two sides, going on a 10-2 run to cut the margin to just 11 points.
Both sides exchanged buckets for the remainder of the penultimate quarter, but it was Australia who were able to consolidate their lead and head into the final break with a 14 point buffer.
At the start of the last, Mudgee-man Jordan Woolmer got his chance to shine and guide his team to the final buzzer.
A strong drive into the key through strong defence saw Woolmer successfully score and increase Australia’s margin to 17 points.
From that point on their was no coming back for the host nation, Woolmer’s fresh legs inspiring his team to a 27 point quarter to run away with the match 59-36 and claim gold.
“Personally I think I played alright, far from perfect but that’s a good thing because now I know where I need to improve my game,” Woolmer said.
“I struggled in one of the earlier matches to convert some of my shots and I was happy that I was able to turn it around for the gold medal match.
“Main focus as one of the point guards on the team was sticking to the coaches game plan and get our team offences going and get the right players the right shots.
“You can see by our scoring spread that we’ve ran our offences well as a team.”
Their progression to the final also means Australia qualified for the Deaflympics in Turkey in 2017 where they will be ranked fifth in the world – a huge achievement.
Their success in Taipei was also the first team gold medal for any sport in Australia’s deaf sports history, and all without sponsorship and very little Government funding.
The Goannas have certainly done their home towns and country extremely proud.