Boomers clinch debut FIBA Asia Cup
Australia have powered their way to the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup undefeated, accounting for Iran 79-56 in the championship game.
The Boomers played a brilliant team game, nullifying tournament MVP Hamed Haddadi while all ten active players on the roster hit the floor. Highlighting the Boomers' exemplary team play, not one player from the Championship winning team was named to the Tournament All-star Five.
It was the experienced duo of Brad Newly and Daniel Kickert who led the Boomers offensively, with Newley scoring an equal game-high 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting, while Kickert added 14 points and 6 rebounds in the commanding performance. Jason Cadee did a terrific job in controlling the play, dishing out a game-high 8 assists alongside 7 points and 5 rebounds in a commanding performance and the Boomers first title under FIBA's new schedule of competition.
Newley was on point early, draining a three-pointer to get the scoring going with the first shot of the game. While Haddadi managed a dunk at the other end, Cadee, Kickert and Newley pushed the Boomers out to an early 12-2 advantage and forcing the Iranian's to call timeout. Iran would come out of the timeout with renewed purpose, closing the margin to 1 and forcing Andrej Lemanis to call a timeout of his own. It was Angus Brandt and Mitch McCarron that got things moving again, the latter finishing a breakaway dunk. The Boomers would hold on for a 4 point lead thanks to a circus lay-up by Cadee at the first break, and doing a great job of pushing Iran out of their offensive sets.
The big men from both sides featured heavily to open the second term, with Haddadi, Kickert, Brandt and Creek all trading blows and dunks. Things were getting heated, with Haddadi's frustration bubbling over and being called for a technical. With Australia rotating its players heavily to utilise its depth and maintain the pressure, the Boomers continued to pull away. Dunks by McCarron and Brandt were topped off by a Nick Kay triple to send the Aussies into half time leading 43-26 and in total control thanks to a 13-3 run.
As would be expected on such a big stage, Iran would not go down without a fight. They fought admirably to close the margin to 11 points by making a living at the charity stripe as some of Australia's front court starting racking up the fouls. However Brandt and Kickert halted their run, steadying the ship to ensure the Boomers would enter the final quarter with a 13 point advantage.
Newley continued his big performance in the final term, combining with Creek and Kay to quickly extend the margin to 21 and put the game beyond Iran's reach. While Haddadi got his fill, it was the depth and teamwork of Australia that earned them the victory, eventually prevailing 79-56 and celebrating a hard-earned win and a first ever FIBA Asia Cup title.
With four players scoring in double figures, and every player hitting the court, they were far too deep and talented for their opponents while executing a tailored game plan. Australia held a 45-35 rebounding advantage, while restricting Iran to shooting 35% from the field compared to their own 45% shooting performance.
While Newley was the leading scorer with 18, Creek was arguably Australia's best and most consistent player throughout the tournament, averaging 14.7 points with 5.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. Kickert was very good in his return to the national team in contributing 12.3 points and 4.7 rebounds per game, while Cadee clocked up 10 points and a team best 4.7 assists per game.
Australia is now the undisputed champion of Asia, earning the title without its growing number of NBA and European-based stars. While the team can rightly celebrate their performance, the attention will quickly shift to the FIBA Asian World Cup qualifiers which tip-off in November.
Australia is scheduled to host their first game against Japan on 27 November, with the Boomers returning in the New Year to take on the Philippines on 22 February and Chinese Taipei on 25 February. It is the first bracket of games in the new qualification process for the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
Australia 79: Newley 18, Kickert 14, Creek 12, Brandt 10 Iran 56: Haddadi 18, Yakhchali 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 defeated Iran 79-56