Boomers dismantle Iran to book World Cup ticket
The Australian Boomers have dismantled Iran to storm to a 29 point victory and in doing so, book a ticket to the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
After a relatively close first term, the Boomers took control of the contest from there on to cruise to a 76-49 win. In registering their eighth win out of their 9 games in the Asian qualifiers, Australia became the first team outside of hosts China, to secure a place for the World Cup from the region.
Eleven of the Boomers squad of 12 hit the scoreboard and nobody played more than 25 minutes, as head coach Andrej Lemanis spread she minutes against a second tier Iranian side who rested their key players for the second leg of the fifth window when they tackle the Philippines in the next game for their chance to secure a World Cup berth on Monday.
Daniel Johnson led Australia with 12 points (3-4 FG), while Mitch McCarron was the only other Boomer to log double figures in scoring, adding 11 points and 5 rebounds.
A close opening to the game had the scores locked up at 8-all early. However a run by Australia saw the hosts pull away by 8 at the first break to take command of the game, and a position from which they were never again threatened.
The Boomers dominated the interior, outscoring Iran 44-16 in the paint and winning the rebound count 52-34.
Lemanis expressed relief after the game more than anything else, having achieved his country's primary objective.
"It's been a grind," Lemanis said. "It's nice to get it done now. That was the endgame - to secure a spot in 2019. It's a relief, and I'm very proud of the team and the players."
Adelaide 36ers star Nathan Sobey also spoke on the achievement of qualifying for next year's World Cup in China, but was not lost on the opportunities ahead for the side.
"It's an awesome achievement, and we can finally take it off our shoulders," said Sobey. "But we will still focus on one game at a time. We know that we can still learn from our experiences in the next games."
24 athletes have pulled on the green and gold for Australia in their World Cup qualifying campaign to date, and moving forward Lemanis now has an opportunity to further audition World Cup hopefuls, while also exposing the next-generation national representatives to senior international basketball. He may well consider elevating rising stars such as US-based Josh Green and officially bring them into the Boomers fold.
Having already secured an opportunity to mix it with the world's best in China from 31 August 2019, the Boomers next face lowly Qatar at Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne on Monday, 4 December, tipping off at 7:35pm AEDST.
Australian Boomers World Cup Asian Qualifying Schedule
Fourth Window: September 14: Australia def Qatar 95-43 September 17: Australia def Kazakhstan 94-41 Fifth Window: November 30: Australia def Iran 76-49 December 3: Australia vs. Qatar at Margaret Court Arena at 7:30pm Sixth Window: February 21: Australia at Kazakhstan: Time TBA February 24: Australia at Iran: Time TBA