The coveted Slam Down Under crown will remain in Wollongong after the Roller Hawks defended the division one title on Sunday.
In all-Illawarra grand final, Roller Hawks Black prevailed 83-76 over Roller Hawks White at Berkeley's Illawarra Sports Stadium. The Slam Down Under - one of Australia's largest wheelchair basketball tournaments - was the main course of the Wheelchair Illawarra Basketball Festival.
The five-day festival began last Wednesday and attracted teams from across NSW, Queensland, South Australia and New Zealand. Organised by the Roller Hawks and Wheelchair Sports NSW/ACT, more than 50 games were contested during the 2023 event, with men and women of all ages and abilities competing.
Australian Rollers star Luke Pople was part of the successful Roller Hawks side on Sunday, playing his role in Illawarra defending their 2022 crown.
"The two Roller Hawks teams were pretty dominant over the weekend, but we were able to get them by six on Saturday and then again in the final on Sunday by seven," Pople said.
"It was back and forth all game. I think the most we got up by was eight or so, and they kept coming back, so we had to play some good defence. We have some good players here in Wollongong, so it was tough but it was fun at the same time."
Pople said the tournament would also play a key role in Australian national selection for many of the Roller Hawks.
"It was obviously good to win it, but also good just to get back out there on the court and get some reps in," he said.
"Our national league was only run over one weekend, which was disappointing because we were unable to get our normal amount of games in over a couple of months. So for us guys in the Aussie squad - and looking to be selected for qualifiers next year - it was good some minutes under your arms.
"We have qualifiers at the start of January, and we have a camp at the end of November to be selected for that. So as much as we can on court right now is good for us."
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