Playing in their second game of the Lithuanian leg of their European tour ahead of the 2014 FIBA World Cup, Australia took on Ukraine and prevailed 75-60 in what proved to be little more than a training run. Ukraine were outclassed early, with Australia leading by more than 30 points and looking sharper than during their win over Finland. However the Boomers will be disappointed with their second half performance, being outscored in both quarters and only managed 5 in the last to allow the scoreboard to flatter their opponents.
Ingles opened the scoring with a backdoor lay-up and ended the quarter with a buzzer-beating triple. In between, the Boomers were able to do as they pleased on both ends of the court. Dante Exum, the youngest member of the team, was impressive. He started more confidently and with aggression; slicing his way into the paint almost at will to collect 7 first quarter points. Cameron Bairstow was proving a handful in the paint, while Brad Newley's slashing was creating opportunities. Ukraine were unable to penetrate the Boomers defence which was much improved, and Australia subsequently powered their way to a commanding 32-7 quarter time lead an all but kill the game.
The second period saw the Ukrainians extend full court pressure which at times slowed the Boomers down. While their efficiency level on offense was restricted, Australia was still able to win the quarter 17-14 behind some crafty scoring by Brock Motum and Exum. Some sloppy play leading to turnovers prevented the Boomers from maintaining their first quarter momentum. Nonetheless, Coach Andrej Lemanis would have been pleased with the improvements shown from the previous night.
The second half commenced as nothing more than a training run for the Boomers, with everyone getting a run. The only highlight of the third quarter was a thunderous Aron Baynes dunk as Ukraine outscored the Boomers 22-21 despite trailing 43-70. With Australia well in control, it was Nathan Jawai's opportunity to show what he can bring to the team. unfortunately for Jawai and the Boomers, it appears that he still needs more time to get back into some kind of form.
Ukraine opened the fourth period on a 7-0 run prompting Lemanis to call a timeout. Nothing changed after the break however as the Europeans scored the next 4 points to make it an 11-0 run before Motum replied with a deft left-hook. It was the Boomers first score on the quarter and it took almost 5 minutes to register. Poor decisions, costly turnovers and overall lack of execution by the Boomers were starting to make the Ukrainian's look good, once again forcing Lemanis to call another break.
While the game was all over by the end of the first period, the vast difference between how the Boomers started compared to how they finished is sure to cause Lemanis and his coaching staff some concern. The Boomers struggled offensively the longer the game went on, turning over the ball a remarkable 27 times compared to just 12 for their opponents. They cannot afford handling the ball so poorly and going through scoring droughts against stronger competition such as tournament hosts Lithuania who they next face.
Australia definitely showed promising signs in the first half behind some great team play at both ends of the floor. A major positive was the performance of Exum, who led all scorers with 14 points alongside 3 rebounds and 3 assists. Veteran David Andersen was efficient in compiling 13 points 4 rebounds, while Ingles and Newley both finished with 10 points each. Matthew Dellavedova and Adam Gibson both dished out 5 assists apiece and the Boomers now look to take on Lithuania early on Tuesday morning.
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 v Lithuania Tuesday, 12 August @ Klaipeda, Lithuania 2:00am AEST Live Online Streaming Live Stats (TBA)
Airbnb Australian Boomers v Finland Wednesday 13 August @ Helsinki, Finland 2:00am AEST
Airbnb Australian Boomers v Ukraine Saturday 16 August @ Nice, France 2:00am TV: LIVE on ESPN2
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.