Australia survived a late scare to defeat New Zealand 89-79 in game 2 of the 2015 FIBA Oceania Championships to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Led by Matthew Dellavedova who had 14 points and 5 assists, the Boomers controlled the game to run out 10 point winners. Andrew Bogut was able to overcome a niggling back injury to add a valuable 10 point and 10 rebound double-double with 3 blocked shots.
However the Tall Blacks made the Boomers earn the win, making a late run to edge to within 5 with just over a minute to play. Yet Dellavedova put the game beyond reach with a dagger three-ball and ensure direct entry to the Olympics for the Boomers, joining the Opals who accounted for the Tall Ferns a day earlier.
Australia won the 2015 FIBA Oceania Championships over New Zealand
“We settled down a little tonight and got the ball inside,” said Andrew Bogut after the game.
“Whenever we needed a key bucket we would go inside-out and we’d get a score.”
The Boomers started strongly behind the play of Ryan Broekhoff, Cameron Bairstow and Dellavedova as they opened up an early 11-4 lead. Dellavedova was prominent, scoring 7 points for the quarter. When Motum made both of his shots from the line late in the period, Australia led 21-14 at the first change and in firm control.
Isaac Fotu got involved in the second quarter, helping New Zealand close the margin back to just 3 points. Playing with confidence, Chris Goulding stepped up for the Boomers to ensure they maintained command, yet it was the Australian big men who made the Nathan Jawai, David Andersen, Bairstow and Bogut all able to score to maintain their 7 point advantage at half time.
Australia opened the second half with 7 straight points before Mika Vukona ended the run with a much-needed basket. Sandwiched between two Reuben Te Rangi triples, Patty Mills added 5 straight points as part of another Boomers 7 point run. When Brad Newley connected on a wide open three-pointer, the Boomers were in total control and leading by 16 points. Newley would connect on another three-ball before Everard Bartlett came off the bench to add a quick fire 7 points for the Tall Blacks - yet they still trailed Australia 53-66 heading into the final term.
Boomers head coach Andrej Lemanis continued to rotate his players as they spread the scoring load. With 5:32 remaining, Australia led by 19 points after Ryan Broekhoff's long two. With the game seemingly over, New Zealand refused to give up without a fight.
Sparked by Vukona, the Tall Blacks went on a 7 point run of their own that was halted by a controversial unsportsmanlike foul called on Vukona against Andersen who was on the break. When he made both from the line, the Boomers were still in front by 13 points with just under 3 minutes left. Sensing an opportunity, New Zealand extended their defense and forced Australian into a number of turnovers that they converted into 8 unanswered points to close to within 5 points thanks to another Te Rangi triple with 1:03 remaining.
With the ball in Mills' hands on the next play, he set up Dellavedova for a trey that ultimately iced the game. Late free throws to Adam Gibson and Dellavedova ensured a 10 point win and a berth in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Andrej Lemanis spoke glowingly of Bogut in the post game press conference, referencing his ability to play through pain.
"I think it’s perhaps underestimated by the general public just what a significant effort that was from Andrew," outlined Lemanis.
"He could have easily said it was just too sore, I’m not going to play. But it meant something to him to be part of the Boomers program. It’s so pleasing to have a group of guys that are that committed to wearing the green and gold singlet.”
For Australia, Dellavedova, Bogut, Andersen (10 points, 3 rebounds) and Bairstow (10 points, 7 rebounds) were all influential. Mills added 9 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists, while Newley (5 rebounds) and Goulding both added 8 points. Webster again led the scoring for the Tall Blacks with 16 points, however he was harassed into shooting just 7-24 from the field. Te Rangi added a spark in connecting on 4/5 three-pointers for 14 points, while Bartlett added 13 (3/6 3PT) and Fotu contributed 12 points and 8 rebounds in the loss.
With Australia's direct entry to the Olympics next year, New Zealand still has a chance to also progress via a FIBA qualification tournament held next year.
2015 FIBA Oceania Championships
Game 2: 18 August: Australian Boomers defeated New Zealand Tall Blacks 89-79