Australia bounced trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand out of the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup following an impressive 106-79 semifinal win to book a place in the final against Iran.
A devastating 31-10 opening term had the Tall Blacks on the back foot all game and from their were never seriously threatened. Matt Hodgson led six Boomers in scoring double figures, with 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting with 6 rebounds and 2 blocks. Jason Cadee, Mitch Creek and Daniel Kickert all had 13 points each, while Nick Kay delivered an 11 point and 10 rebound double-double.
After both teams traded baskets to open the game, Cadee drained a three-pointer that sparked a devastating 20-0 run, capped by a Creek dunk. Hodgson, Creek and Cadee were the architects behind the drive, as they caused the Tall Blacks all kinds of match-up problems. While New Zealand would settle late in the period, the damage had already been done, trailing by 21 points at the first break.
To their credit, the Tall Blacks attempted to mount a comeback in the second quarter. They would quickly close the margin back to 14 points following a 9-2 mini-run of their own. Cadee responded with a three to halt the run, while Hodgson continued to dominate in the paint. Reuben Te Rangi and Shea Ili were keeping the scoreboard ticking over for the Tall Blacks, book-ending a Kickert trey. Mitch McCarron (8 points) would then end the half with a traditional three-point play to ensure the Boomers went into the break leading comfortably by 13 points, but with the New Zealander's working their way back to within striking distance.
Cadee opened the second half with another triple, as the usual suspects to Hodgson and Kickert kept the momentum going. When Brad Newley (8 points, 3 assist) completed a three-point play, every Boomer had hit the scoreboard. The Tall Blacks suffered a terrible loss when Ili had to leave the game after tearing the webbing in his hand. Australia's offensive onslaught in the paint continued, with Kay and Angus Brandt (5 points, 5 assists) inflicting more pain on the Tall Blacks to send Australia ahead by 19 points at the final break.
Without Ili, Tohi Smith-Milner tried to shoulder the scoring load. Scores by Newley and Hodgson would combine to cancel out his efforts, with the latter continuing his interior dominance alongside Kay, as the lead ballooned back out to beyond 20. With the result beyond a double, the Boomers cruised to 27 point victory to book a place in a debut Asian Cup final.
Australia were able to inflict damage inside and out, with the Boomers connecting shooting 55% from the field that included an efficient 9-of-18 from beyond the arc. With 29 assists on 40 field goals and committing just 11 turnovers, the Boomers also owned the paint with a 62-36 scoring advantage and winning the rebound count 4-32.
While Hodgson would lead the Australian's in scoring, Cadee also dished out 5 assists, while Creek added 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals to his scoring tally.
The Boomers will take on Iran in the final who progressed following a narrow 87-81 victory over Korea. Iran's back-court secured them the win over a sharp-shooting Korean side, with star center Hamad Haddadi well held in their semifinal win. Like the Boomers, Iran has remained undefeated throughout the tournament. New Zealand will play off for bronze against Korea.
The final is scheduled for 4:00am AEST on Monday morning and will be broadcast live on Fox Sports Australia.
Australia 106: Hodgson 15, Cadee 13, Creek 13, Kickert 13, Norton 12, Kay 11 New Zealand 79: Te Rangi 15, Ili 14, Smith-Milner 13, Hunter 10
Boomers schedule for FIBA Asia Cup
August 8: Australia defeated Japan 84-68 August 10: Australia defeated Hong Kong 99-58 August 12: Australia defeated Chinese Taipei 90-50 August 17: Quarterfinals – Australia defeated China 97-71 August 19: Semifinals – Australia defeated New Zealand 106-79 August 20: Final - Australia vs Iran at 4:00am AEST
Fox Sports will be broadcasting every Boomers game live.