Sapphire Shines at Asian Championships

Year 10 student Agnes Emma-Nnopu has helped Australia's Under-16 basketball team, the Sapphires, win this year's Asian Championships.

Agnes travelled to India with the Sapphires squad, which went undefeated from its three pool games, quarter final and semi-final. "We came into the tournament not knowing what to expect, the only thing we knew about Asian teams was that they were small and quick," Agnes said.

The Australians met Japan in the grand final, where a thrilling contest ensued. Japan held the Sapphires at bay for much of the match, only for Agnes (10 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks) and her teammates to overcome them in the final quarter and clinch the win, 61-60.

"The grand final was what we had expected which was for Japan to come out quick and to hit every shot, we knew that in order to win we just had to play our game and control the tempo of the game which is what we were able to do in the second half," Agnes said.

Agnes, who also plays in the College and Geelong Supercats basketball teams, said she had a "truly amazing" experience playing in India. "The bond between the team was amazing on and off the court we had so much fun together, everyone got along really well... This experience has really given me an outlook on international basketball and how the game is played in Asia," she said.

The win qualifies Australia for the 2018 U17 World Cup, which it won last year. The team will gather again to tryout for spots in that team and, if selected, Agnes will play in Minsk, Belarus, against teams like the USA, Japan and Italy in July 2018.

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