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Boomers edge past France to go 3-0 in Nice
The Boomers have enjoyed their most impressive victory so far as they prepare for the 2014 FIBA World Cup, overcoming France 76-74 to sweep their 3-match tournament in Nice. The Boomers were once again led by Aron Baynes on both ends of the court, falling just short of his third double-double in a row by compiling 21 points and 9 rebounds.
The Boomers won all 3 games in Nice - Courtesy Basketball Australia
France, coming off a loss the day before against Ukraine, came out firing to quickly have the Boomers on the back foot. The hosts started with a 13-2 run capped off by a Mickael Gelabale dunk and Thomas Huertal 3-pointer after just three minutes of play. Late quarter offensive fouls by France while the Boomers pounded the ball inside allowed the Boomers to claw back into the match by quarter's end at 22-16, with the French paced by 10 first quarter points from French forward Nicolas Batum.
Australia started to adjust to the high pace set by the French and showed early in the second quarter they could mix it with their style of play with three consecutive 3-pointers by Boomers Guard Chris Goulding. This would make the score 27-26 in a game clearly higher in intensity and level of play from previous friendlies played thus far. The Boomers would hit the lead on the next play with a Brock Motum lay-up who afterwards didn't back down by showing his frustration at the close checking of the French.
This would end an impressive 14-2 run by the Boomers, fueled by stronger inside defense and crashing the boards as the French nosed back in front going into half time with a 36-34 advantage. The second of two late offensive fouls by center Aron Baynes would see him pick up his third foul for the game and be a potential concern for Boomers Coach Andrej Lemanis; they headed into the second half having to match it with France's physical inside play.
Ryan Broekhoff, who started the match on the back of solid outings in the Boomers' previous two matches, would continue his high percentage from long range by burying a corner 3-pointer which was then followed by a Baynes dunk; this saw the Boomers take their largest lead of the match at 43-38 early in the third term. With the Boomers focus inside on the defensive end, France were able to get open looks from outside which French forward Boris Diaw took advantage of, his 3-pointer swung the ascendancy back in France's favour at 49-45 with 4 minutes remaining in the quarter.
While Batum's fourth 3-pointer of the game would extend the French lead further, a late Brad Newley driving lay-up would see the Boomers edge to within 51-58 heading into the last quarter. This lead would be quickly evaporated however on the back of an 13-3 run as Matthew Dellavedova would continue his strong aggressive play of late in driving to the hoop, while a Motum 3-pointer followed by a short David Andersen jumper quietened the crowd as the Boomers took the lead 62-61 with half a quarter to play.
The familiar connection of Dellavedova to Baynes for an alley-oop that we saw so much of in the 2012 Olympics showed itself again for the second time in this match late in the quarter. Baynes would follow this up with a reverse lay-up for a 68-66 lead with two minutes to play as the French struggled on offense. An offensive mix up by the Boomers followed by an open lay-up for France had the match still in the balance as the Boomers had possession with 28.5 seconds to play and the lead at 71-69.
As Baynes would knock down two free throws for a 4-point lead, a Diaw travelling violation on the next key possession would make the task for the French all the more difficult. After another Batum 3-pointer, Joe Ingles would be sent to the free throw line with a chance to ice the game. While Ingles missed the first free throw, an laser pointer used by a foolish spectator in crowd meant Ingles' miss would over overturned. He went on to knock down the subsequent two free throws for his first points of the match and create a 5-point buffer.
A foul on another Batum 3-point attempt on the next play saw the Frenchman knock down the first 2 free throws and purposely miss the third but a scramble for the rebound would see the score remain and the Boomers eventual three point victors. While Ingles' late free throws were his only points of the game he came up big with 9 rebounds and 7 assists while Dellavedova was the second highest scorer with 10 points to go with 5 assists. Batum was a significant factor for France with 24 points and also led his team with 6 rebounds.
The Boomers will now enjoy a few days break before their last two matches of their world cup preparations sees them face Finland and a much anticipated re-match with France in Strasbourg.
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 Recap
Airbnb Australian Boomers defeated Philippines 97-75 Sunday 17 August @ Nice, France 2:00am Recap
Airbnb Australian Boomers defeated France 76-74 Monday 18 August @ Nice, France 4:30am
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.