BOOMERS TIP OFF FIBA WC QUALIFIERS SECOND ROUND BY CRUSHING QATAR
With an obvious edge from the opening tip, the Boomers never looked like dropping the game and led by 16 points at half-time but an incredible third quarter and a 27-0 run officially put the contest beyond Qatar’s reach.
Angus Brandt (nine points, seven rebounds) got the Aussies going, scoring five of their first six points before Nick Kay (12 points, two steals) stepped out to knock down a triple as Qatar’s front court immediately had trouble slowing the pair down.
The Boomers full court press was also wreaking havoc, allowing Mitch McCarron to show off in transition and open a double-digit lead in the first quarter.
Matt Hodgson (four points, five boards, two blocks) then capped off a dominant opening term for the Boomers, recording a huge block and then getting the feed from Mitch Norton (five points, two steals) to throw down a thunderous dunk at the other end.
The pain continued into the second period with Anthony Drmic (13 points) keeping the scoreboard ticking over and the hustle plays of McCarron (ten points, six rebounds, four assists) and Nathan Sobey (six points, three steals) continuing to gift the Boomers with easy transition buckets.
Daniel Johnson (11 points, three steals) then got on the court for his first minutes as a Boomer and it did not take him long to hit the scoreboard while also feeding a cutting McCarron with a pinpoint pass on the half-time siren.
While Australia had impressed up until that point, they took their defence to another level in the third quarter.
Completely suffocating Qatar and forcing them into contested drives or jumpers late in the shot clock, the Boomers held their opponents scoreless for over nine minutes.
At one stage it looked as if Qatar were facing a scoreless quarter but while they did knock down a couple of late free-throws, the damage had been done after Australia put together a 27-0 run.
Kay continued to punish them inside, Jesse Wagstaff (18 points) showed off his talents from the paint and beyond the arc and Todd Blanchfield (six points) found his stroke quickly with a couple of three-pointers in an absolutely dominant quarter.
“I was really impressed with our defensive intent,” said coach Andrej Lemanis.
“We were very disruptive but the most important thing was our intent. It’s a long way to fly for a game so there was always a chance we could come out sluggish but the guys did a great job having the right mindset.
“The mentality to defend and to have each other’s backs was there and we were able to build pressure from it.”
Shooting 68% from inside the arc, the Boomers tallied 22 assists and 17 steals while only turning the ball over 11 times.
They proved their depth with a +34 advantage off the bench while also owning Qatar with a 56-20 edge in the paint.
Find the box score here.
Sitting on top of the ladder heading into their next World Cup qualifier against Kazakhstan on Monday night, coach Lemanis was not taking any games for granted.
“We’ve got a long way back home so we have to stay focused on the task at hand. That is, resetting ourselves, playing like we did defensively tonight and playing as a team offensively.
“We’re obviously in a good position but no win is guaranteed.”
The Boomers head to Bendigo to face Kazakhstan on Monday night as they complete the fourth window of the FIBA World Cup qualifiers. Get your tickets for that game here.
The Australian Boomers Schedule for the second round of FIBA World Cup qualifiers (all times AEST):
Window 4- September 14: Australia def. Qatar (95-43)
September 17: Australia vs. Kazakhstan at Bendigo Stadium, Victoria at 7pm.
Window 5- November 30: Australia vs. Iran at Margaret Court Arena, Victoria. Time TBA.
December 3: Australia vs. Qatar at Margaret Court Arena, Victoria. Time TBA.
Window 6- February 21: Australia vs. Kazakhstan. Time TBA.
February 24: Australia vs. Iran. Time TBA.
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