ENGLAND PREPARE FOR AUSSIE GOLD RUSH

England’s women will meet Australia for the Commonwealth Games gold medal after securing a 65-53 semi-final victory.

Having snatched the lead less than five minutes into the game, England never surrendered it from that moment on as Rachael Vanderwal, with 20 points, two rebounds and six assists, leading her team to victory.

Stef Collins was in tears immediately following the contest as the realisation of their achievement began to sink in, but the captain knows that the job is far from over ahead of Saturday’s final.

“We’ve all played together for so long, maybe not representing England but representing GB, it just means so much to us,” Collins said. “For some of us who have played for so long, it means the world. I love these girls so much – I think we have a really good bond.”

In a reversal of results from the pool games, England shrugged off a slow start as Vanderwal stayed aggressive on the offensive end – just as she did in the quarter-final against Jamaica – to earn the team’s first points from the foul line.

The early injection of Hannah Shaw and Pressley into the game paid immediate dividends as they rattled off six quick points to claim the lead. Pressley, in particular, looked energetic for England as her athleticism led to a number of easy baskets.

Whether England was foxing in the pool games or simply changed tactics after being on the wrong end of a 80-54 loss in Townsville, there was a noticeable difference in coach Chema Buceta’s game plan. England’s pressure defence was telling as they forced Canada into 15 first-half turnovers, while they played a running game in offence for the first time in the tournament instead of looking to score out of the half-court.

“We changed the defence as Canada knew more about what we’d do from the first game,” Buceta said. “We tried to put more pressure on the ball, deny the passing and stop the three-point shot as they shot very well in the last game against us.”

“I think the defence was the key to the game, especially in the first half.”

With Canada struggling to adapt, England was able to spark a 10-0 run either side of quarter-time to burst the game open.

While Dallas Wings centre Ruth Hamblin (21 points and 10 rebounds) was trying her best to stem the bleeding for Canada, England appeared to have every answer as they used a 19-5 second quarter to secure a 35-19 advantage at half-time.

“Our defence has been solid throughout the tournament after that first game, and that’s what won us the game today,” Vanderwal said. “We changed up our defensive plan today and that surprised them, got them back on their heels. We played pressure D for 40 minutes and really took it to them.”

“It was our first game up against Canada before and we had a lot of nerves, we weren’t really together as a team yet. Tonight we proved what a team we have, everyone contributed. This is probably the biggest win internationally for me, I’m going to get a medal tomorrow! It’s up there as number one as the highlight of my career.”

Photo: Basketball England

 

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