Shyla Heal (centre) with her Sapphires teammates at the Under-17 World Cup.
Shyla Heal (centre) with her Sapphires teammates at the Under-17 World Cup.

Another Heal starring for Australian basketball

SHYLA Heal, the daughter of Boomers great Shane Heal, has led the Sapphires to a bronze medal at the Under-17 World Cup.

The young player scored 16 points in the second half to help the Aussies defeat Hungary 57-51.

The Sapphires had been behind by as much as eight points and were down 37-31 at the three-quarter break, but Heal kicked into gear and her scoring run helped her team draw level at 47-all before they went on to seal victory.

Heal rose to the occasion when she felt her team needed her most. The Aussies had lost the semi-final to France 68-58 the day before and she did not want to be on the wrong end of the result again.

"It feels kind of surreal," Heal told the FIBA website.

"You always dream about it as a kid - you train every day in the lead-up. So to come third in the world out of so many countries is amazing.

"We felt we should definitely have been in the final, but we had a tough loss yesterday so we thought we'd bring it back for Australia and fight our hearts out today.

"I knew we were down and knew my team needed help and my team looks for me to step up in big moments so I thought 'it's my time - let's go.'"

Heal's efforts throughout the tournament and especially in the bronze medal match earned her a place in the All Star Five.

The USA's Jordan Horston was named MVP with an average 10.1 points, 7.0 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 3.4 steals. USA, whicheasily won gold from France with a 92-40 win, had three All Star players (Haley Jones and Aliyah Boston the other two), and France's Iliana Rupert was also named.


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