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Boomers back to their winning ways in Europe
The Australian Boomers have returned to winning form in their 2014 FIBA World Cup preparations with a 74-65 victory over Ukraine in Nice on the back of a scorching 15 final quarter points by Ryan Broekhoff who connected on 5 of 7 three-pointers.
Seldomly used thus far in the Boomers previous four matches of their European tour, Broekhoff showed why he was one of the last players selected in the squad by producing some much-needed offense right when the Boomers needed it most. Aron Baynes backed up a solid performance in the Boomers last match against Finland by producing another double-double performance with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Ryan Broekhoff had 15 final quarter points against Ukraine - Courtesy Basketball Australia
Much like he was in Helsinki, Baynes was aggressive early scoring the Australian's first three field goals for an early 10-5 lead. Turnovers by the Ukrainians in an up tempo start by both teams helped the Boomers close out the quarter well. Three consecutive trips down the floor with baskets from Nathan Jawai, Brock Motum and Matthew Dellavedova resulted in an 18-12 lead at the end of the first term. Baynes' presence on the boards would also be felt early, as the Boomers over powered Ukraine with a 15-5 rebounding advantage after one-quarter.
Turnovers resulting from some questionable passes would creep back into the Boomers play, while Ukraine Point Guard Eugene "Pooh" Jeter would pace the eastern Europeans and cut into the lead with the score remaining close at 23-21 midway through the second quarter. Baskets by Cameron Bairstow and Baynes would see the Boomers go into the locker room at half time with a slight edge at 33-31.
Ukraine hit the front early in the third quarter namely due to a lack of offensive output from the Australians. Hesitation and reluctance to shoot on their offensive sets would hurt the Boomers, while Jeter continued to be a handful breaking the press at times leading to field goals such as Sviatoslav Mikhailiuk's 3-pointer that resulted in a 40-37 advantage to Ukraine.
Baynes continued to be the Boomers lone shining light at both ends of the floor, making a soft left hook that saw Australia regain the lead by a point midway through the quarter. Dante Exum's only field goals in an otherwise quiet night would come on consecutive plays, while a Motum triple would see the scores tied at 52-52 heading into the last quarter and capping what had been a scrappy affair for the first three-quarters.
Aron Baynes makes a free throw against Ukraine - Courtesy Basketball Australia
Broekhoff however would immediately turn the match on its head at the outset of the fourth quarter, connecting on a 3-pointer and then coming off a screen and burying another from distance. He backed this up with a third triple in a row for a 61-57 lead with 7 minutes to play. Excellent ball movement would see Brad Newley also dial in from long distance, before two more from downtown from the hot-shooting Broekhoff as part of a 14-0 run to ensure that the Boomers put the game out of the reach of the Ukrainians and ultimately win the contest by 9 points.
Jeter was the leading scorer for the losing side with 14 points while for the Boomers, Motum again showed consistency with 11 points. not for the first time on this tour, fellow big man Jawai yet again failed to deliver or show signs of increasing value. In only a handful of minutes for Jawai, he was pulled from the game in the first half by Head Coach Andrej Lemanis after a frustrated Jawai shoved a Ukraine defender in the back after being called for a foul.
Jawai's output along with the Boomers tendency to go stretches without scoring and turning the ball over will be at the forefront of Lemanis' mind as they prepare for their next match against the Philippines. The French then follow, a team who will not be as forgiving as the Ukrainians were in this exhibition.
Australian Boomers Pre-World Cup Schedule
Airbnb Australian Boomers defeated Finland 100-95 Friday, 8 August @ Klaipeda, Lithuania 11:15pm AEST Recap + Replay
Airbnb Australian Boomers defeated Ukraine 75-60 Saturday, 9 August @ Klaipeda, Lithuania 11:15pm AEST Recap
Airbnb Australian Boomers lost to Lithuania 78-91 Tuesday, 12 August @ Klaipeda, Lithuania 2:00am AEST Recap
Airbnb Australian Boomers lost to Finland 81-87. Recap
Airbnb Australian Boomers defeated Ukraine 74-65 Saturday 16 August @ Nice, France 2:00am
Airbnb Australian Boomers v Philippines Sunday 17 August @ Nice, France 2:00am TV: LIVE on ESPN2
Airbnb Australian Boomers v France Monday 18 August @ Nice, France 4:30am TV: LIVE on ESPN2
Airbnb Australian Boomers v Finland Saturday 23 August @ Strasbourg, France 4:30am
Airbnb Australian Boomers v France Monday 25 August @ Strasbourg, France 3:00am TV: LIVE on ESPN2
Australia opens the 2014 FIBA World Cup against Slovenia in Gran Canaria, Spain on August 31 at 1:30am AEST live on ABC2 or online on FIBA's livebasketball.tv.