Boomers survive scare to post big win over Canada in World Cup opener
It was a mix of the old and new standing up for the Boomers, with perhaps nobody shining brighter than Matthew Dellavedova, who finished with 24 points, showing off his much publicised new shooting form to knock down six of his ten attempts from beyond the arc.
Other key contributors for the Boomers included Patty Mills (15 points, nine assists) Joe Ingles (13 points, five rebounds, nine assists), Andrew Bogut (12 points, nine rebounds) and Jock Landale (eight points, six rebounds, three assists).
The Boomers sealed the win with a dominant final quarter, outscoring Canada 32-15 to cruise to victory after surrendering a 12-point halftime lead to trail 77-76 after three.
The Australian’s appeared to have initiated cruise control in the first half, with Ingles and Mills continuously disrupting the Canadian passing lanes, while Landale, Aron Baynes and Bogut provided physicality in protecting the paint.
Landale continued his impressive run in the green and gold in the first half, swatting a Kevin Pangos lay-up attempt on the defensive end, while hitting the offensive glass for a put back jam and drilling a three-point attempt from the perimeter.
A parade to the free-throw line kept the Australians on top in that first half, as the Canadians continued to be frustrated by the the officials calls. The Boomers attempted 13 free-throws in the first half to Canada’s 4, in what became a decisive factor in the Australians maintaining control.
The only lingering negative heading into the third quarter was turnovers, with the Boomers committing an extraordinary ten giveaways in the first half, allowing Canada to score in transition and remain within reach.
Canada coach, Nick Nurse, used the halftime break to steady his squad, and they responded in incredible fashion. When Pangos calmly nailed a triple from the corner, the Boomers lead had completely disappeared in a mere 3:07 of playing time.
Canada would explode for 37 points in the third, notching a team record point total in World Cup competition.
Boomers guard, Chris Goulding, who had 16 points in just 17 minutes on the floor on Sunday, touched on the team’s poor start to the second half.
“We weren’t ready to go at the start of the third quarter and when you are playing quality opposition, they can put points on the board quick,” Goulding admitted.
“We got slapped in the face a little bit, we realised the situation we were in and picked it up again and managed to get a good solid win.”
The key instigator in the Boomers ‘picking it up’ would be, Dellavedova, who started to stamp his authority on the contest. The Cleveland Cavaliers guard would score ten points in the quarter, in what would ultimately be just the beginning of his scoring outburst.
It was Patty Mills’ fourth quarter heroics that led the Boomers to victory against Team USA in Melbourne last week, but this time is was his long time backcourt mate, Dellavedova that morphed into a human flamethrower down the stretch.
Dellavedova would bury three more long range bombs, adding three assists for good measure, before checking out of the game with seven seconds remaining to a nice ovation from the strong Australian presence in Dongguan crowd.
“It was pretty neat and special tonight walking in and seeing the number of green and gold singlets. That is a reflection of how much basketball has grown in the sporting landscape within Australia and how much the public follows hoops and I guess is ultimately a reflection of the success the guys have had on the world stage and people want to come and get behind the team and support it.,” head coach, Andrej Lemanis commented postgame.
Lemanis pointed to the defensive letdown out of the half as a focus point moving forward on several occasions, though he was pleased with the squads ability to withstand the onslaught and get back on track.
“Outside of that five minutes I was really pleased with the effort we gave and it was good to be tested like that in a game that matters and find a way to hold our nerve, get back together, start playing some good basketball and work our way to what ended up being a good solid win,” Lemanis.
In a major positive, the Boomers were able to clean up the turnovers in the second half, committing just three, while also taking a 37-31 edge on the glass. Perhaps the most impressive team stat on the box score was the assists numbers however, with the Australians assisting on 23 of their 39 made baskets, while feasting on high percentage looks from inside the three-point arc.
“We shot 70% from inside the arc, part of that was because we wanted to get in there and share the ball and we had 24 assists as a result of that. That’s something with Boomers teams that you never have to question, everybody’s willingness to play in the best interest of the group and execute their role in the best interest of the team,” Lemanis said.
There were positives, and also some negatives from the Boomers opening game at the World Cup, but the only real stat that matters is a W in the standings.
The focus now quickly moves to Tuesday night against Senegal, tip-off is at 5:30pm (AEST)
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