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Inspiring moment that set up 'huge' Aussie win

Posted: 08-Jul-2019 by PanAm Games 2019

As the buzzer went, Bailey De Bortoli fell to the court, clearly hurt.

Simultaneously, every single one of his teammates leapt off the bench, running halfway across the playing surface to come to his aid. They converged around him, helping him to the physio table to receive treatment as one green and gold unit.

It’s a moment that sums up Australia’s Open Men’s basketball team, and one of many that showed the exceptional camaraderie that dwells within their dressing room.

The boys turned in a special performance on Sunday in the face of a raucous Mexican crowd, stunning the hosts 65-49 in their opening match of the Maccabi Pan-American Games.

Hudson and Mackenzie De Bortoli help their brother Bailey off the court

The tone for the victory was set before the match had even tipped-off. As the team came together for their pre-match huddle, co-captain Jarred Kieser addressed the group. Kieser delivered a passionate address, urging his teammates to give their all and cherish every moment in a powerful speech that laid the foundation for an impressive victory.

From the outset, the Aussie outfit found their groove – racing out to a lead in the opening phases of the match. With hundreds inside Moises Derzavich Arena scrutinising their every action, every individual showed character to complete their task.

The atmosphere absolutely electric.

Most of these players had never experience anything quite like the booming roars of the crowd, the jeers when they attempted a free throw, cheers whenever they made the slightest error. It truly was a match setting that encapsulated the best of international sport and what makes representing Maccabi abroad so special.

The Open Men's Basketball team have an incredible camaraderie

But you’d be forgiven for suggesting the Aussie team were playing in front of empty stands. Their composure and poise in the face of a crowd onslaught was impressive, especially as momentum swung away from them in the mid-stages of the match.

Following a strong opening on the back of two-way performances by Hudson de Bortoli and Idan Shamis, the men in green and gold found themselves pegged back by a Mexican outfit riding on a wave of home support.

The momentum had slowed and a second quarter that yielded just seven points had coach Al Westover fuming at his charges. Westover gave the Aussies a rollicking on the bench, demanding accountability for errors.

And the tactic reaped benefits almost instantly. The margin had shortened to as little as two points at one stage, but they came out firing following the spray leaping out to another lead that they never relented on the back of a real team performance.

One that showed the character of a team quickly becoming one of the best stories within Team Aus. The understanding and team chemistry within the squad makes them an outfit who refuse to say die.

What an atmosphere it was!

Those on the bench rode every shot, willing their teammates forward at every instance and as they sealed a huge first up victory, emotion was running high.

“That’s huge for us,” Kieser said after clinching the win.

“It’s been ten months of work to get where we are, we’ve had three days training but nothing can prepare us for the physicality and the atmosphere out there. That was insane but the boys rallied together to come out with the win, that was huge.”

This could only be the beginning.

With clashes against Guatemala, USA and Argentina to come, this united Aussie outfit will be shooting for gold.