Recently our Deakin Dragons Women’s Basketball team made their way to Taiwan competing in the Buddha’s Light International Association (BLIA) Cup in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. The BLIA cup invites men’s and women’s university basketball teams from to celebrate cultural exchange through sport and compete on an international stage in front of an arena hosting 30,000 spectators and broadcasted across Asian TV channels including Fox Sports!
The Dragons team were the sole team representing Australia and were competing against eight teams from around the world in a round-pool and crossover competition format. Teams included Taiwan, United States of America, Canada, China, Philippines and Japan.
The Deakin Dragons showed immense defensive pressure and adaptability on the court in their round-pool games, with the TV commentators praising their resilience and ability to adapt to the high humidity and heat in Taiwan at the time (something us Melbournians aren’t accustomed to!). Through the first four days of competition we played East China University of Science and Technology, Humber College (Canada) and the home team Fo Guang University (Taiwan). Recording two heart stopping one-point wins against Canada and East China, the Dragons secured themselves a place in the semi-final taking on reigning BLIA Cup champions Nagoya Gakuin University (Japan).
Team captain Neehara Ravikumar led the team’s defensive efforts aided heavily by Andrea Belmonte who both recorded a number of steals and assists.
Ravikumar also made the top 5 plays of Day 1 of the tournament with an incredible three pointer to seal the Dragons win against East China in the last few seconds of the game.
The Dragons headed into the semi-finals as crowd favourites knowing they would have to put up a strong defence against the reigning champs to secure a spot in the grand final against home team Fo Guang University. Despite a strong performance on the court, Japan showed their agility and accurate shooting against the Dragons walking away with the win.
A strong presence under the ring was consistent throughout the tournament led by team MVP Carly Vuillermin and Victoria Sumskas who recorded high numbers of rebounds throughout the tournament, becoming known for their ruthlessness under their ring.
University of North Colorado were the Deakin Dragons final opponent in the Bronze Medal match, but unfortunately UNC showed their experience in playing high pressure US College Basketball taking a lead early in the game that the Dragons were unable to come back from.
The Dragons passion and spirit was well highlighted throughout the tournament by other teams, coaches and commentators with the team bringing home a trophy for their successful fourth place.
The Deakin Dragons Basketball team would like to thank AND1 for providing the team with our best uniform yet plus slides and basketball sneakers that were well worn throughout the trip especially through our sightseeing days which included tours of the Fo Guang Monastery where our accommodation was located, as well as on Cijin Island and through the Pier 42 Art District.
The Dragons players, coaches, trainers, and staff would like to also thank the BLIA cup staff, volunteers and spectators for their support, generosity and invitation to compete against some of the best university teams from around the world!