July 16, 2013
Kazan, Russia --- For Cameron Bairstow and the Australia Boomers, silver works just fine. Bairstow scored 21 points in the championship game against home-standing Russia, but it was just short as the Russians won gold with an 81-74 title game win. For the U.S., they earned ninth place with a 97-70 win over Finland, with Alex Kirk scoring eight points and grabbing four rebounds.
Both the Aussies and the Americans finished 6-2 overall. Australia, which finished 15th in the last World University Games, earned its first basketball medal at the Games. It was nearly gold, except for a bad finish to the opening quarter, in which it fell behind 25-15 at the break. That deficit jumped to 15 before another stirring comeback, one that ultimately fell short.
For the U.S., dropping into the middle 9th/16th bracket proved not much of a contest, as the U.S. easily rolled to ninth place with its 97-70 win over Finland. Ironically, over the course of the games, the U.S. played and beat all three Scandinavian countries in Sweden, Norway, and Finland.
The tournament proved to be a stepping stone for Bairstow, who led the Boomers in scoring (12.8 ppg), rebounding (6.8 rpg), and blocks (1.0 bpg). He also finished second in assists, shooting 49% from the field, and 65% from the line. Bairstow was at his best in the big games, scoring 22 against the U.S. to basically put the Aussies into the medal round, hitting the winning basket over 2011 gold medalists Lithuania, and then hitting for 21 in the gold medal game.
While Kirk wasn't the leading scorer, his minutes proved valuable in Kazan. He averaged 3.7 points and 5.3 rebounds while playing a little over eight minutes per contest. He went 11-for-17 from the field, and 4-for-6 from the line, and his four blocks were fourth on the team.
Bairstow will get a chance to rest up before rejoining the Lobos on August 4 as the Lobos head to Australia for an international trip to play three exhibition games in Australia. It will be a chance to Bairstow and fellow Aussie Hugh Greenwood to play in front of their country-mates with New Mexico, and it will allow the team to get in some extra practice and a few games with new head coach Craig Neal manning the team.