Gangurrus Secure Olympic Berth

May 6, 2024 | WNBL news

The Gangurrus have made history at the last-chance FIBA Olympic Qualifiers in Japan over the weekend – defying all odds to become the inaugural 3×3 team to represent Australia at an Olympic Games.

Perth Lynx’s Anneli Maley, Bendigo Spirit’s Ally Wilson, Adelaide Lightning’s Lauren Mansfield and former WNBL star Marena Whittle helped secure an historic Olympic berth.

A movie-script sequence of events played out for Maley, Wilson, Whittle and Mansfield – who had to overcome a heart breaking over-time loss in the opener to remain the last team standing in Utsunomiya, Japan.

The OT loss against the Netherlands meant the 6th ranked Gangurrus had to be perfect to punch their ticket to Paris. And perfect they were…

The Aussies stormed out of the group stage after overpowering Kenya (22-9) and stunning Canada (21-16) to lock in 1st seed in Group B on points scored aggregate. They overcame a physical Brazil in the semifinal (18-16) before knocking off the highly fancied Canadian outfit a second time (19-16) in the final to make history.

Head Coach Damon Lowery says this tournament showed what the Gangurrus are about.

“Successful teams are built on high character people, digging deep and finding a way is what we do,” said Lowery.

“I’m proud of the way we stand on business, it’s the way of the Gangurrus.” 

The Gangurrus beat the 2nd ranked Canadians in the final with Ally Wilson sealing the game from the free throw line with seconds remaining to push the score to 19 – 16.

Marena Whittle was a major problem for Canada with her ability to work to the rim and Mansfield’s speed provided a perfect counter balance in transition.

Former WNBL MVP Anneli Maley was unstoppable in the final and tested Canada with her dynamic scoring and rebounding ability. Maley was named MVP for her play at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying tournament.

“I feel like we just made history, the first 3×3 team to make the Olympics, it’s such an honour and to do it alongside such a special group adds to it all,” Maley said. 

“The Gangurru culture, it’s more than just a sports team, it’s a family.”

The feeling for Maley is a fact. For the first time in history, Australia will have three representative basketball teams at an Olympic Games tournament.

The Gangurrus electric qualifying dash adds another layer of anticipation for the Ford BALLIN’24 series in Melbourne this July – with all six senior representative teams converging for a major series on home soil against China and Japan.