Portland basketballer Ebony Rolph has helped Australia clinch a bronze medal at the world under 18 3x3 championships.
Rolph, 17, was part of the four-member Australian side which defeated Italy 16-14 in the third-place play-off at the FIBA championships in Madrid, Spain.
The victory came after Australia went through its pool C matches undefeated with an 81-32 points for/against record.
The side lost to eventual champion United States 21-13 in a semi-final.
Rolph, a former Warrnambool Mermaid, is these days based at Geelong, where she boards and studies year 12 at Belmont High School.
She and Warrnambool’s Maddy White were part of the gold medal-winning Victoria Country squad at the national under 18 titles in Sydney in July. Her performances earned her selection on the Australian roster and came after a knee operation in November last year sidelined her for six months.
Warrnambool basketball coach Tony Gall said Rolph’s bronze medal was well-earned.
Gall, who coaches Rolph as part of a National Intensive Training Program, said her dedication to the sport stood out.
“It’s been a long process for Eb,” he said.
“Coming from Portland, it’s an extra hour so most trainings you’re looking at a two-hour drive to do individual training with me and then she’d be in the state team.
“Her mum and dad have done a great job being involved, really supporting and travelling everywhere with her. It takes a big effort.”
Three-on-three basketball is the latest format of the game to gain momentum across the world. The under 18 3x3 titles, from September 28 to 30, were staged for the second time, while the senior titles went ahead for the first time last month.
Gall said Rolph’s game was suited to 3x3 basketball.
“Everyone on that team she went away with was what we would call a 2/3, someone who plays inside and out,” he said. “It’s a very athletic game. You wouldn’t put your big, lumbering six-foot-eight player in there.
“It’s very quick, there’s lots of space on the floor.”
Rolph was the second south-west Victorian to represent Australia this month.
White, also a former Mermaid studying in Geelong, was part of the under 19 Australian Gems squad which beat New Zealand 3-0 in Porirua a week earlier.
She is a chance to feature in the Gems squad for world championships in March.