Emerging Boomers cruise to important win over Russia
The Emerging Boomers are back on the winners list at the 2017 World University Games in Taipei, easily accounting for Russia 89-71 in their penultimate group stage match.
It was a powerful display from Australia, as slick offence and an immense attention to detail on the defensive end underpinned their most dominating performance at the tournament thus far. The victory brings the Emerging Boomers' win-loss record back to even, setting up a vital final group stage match against Mozambique tomorrow.
A poor shooting second half lowered Australia's field goal percentage to 45 percent for the entire contest, but after connecting on 52 percent of their shot attempts in the first period, and 59 in the second, a comfortable buffer had already been produced. Furthermore, the Emerging Boomers were able to force 13 steals, a representation of their defensive focus.
Dejan Vasiljevic led all scorers with 22 points, while Jack McVeigh also reached the double-digit threshold with 11 points. All 11 Aussies who saw minutes contributed to the score sheet. Gorjok Gak finished with a double-double of 16 points and 11 rebounds, while for Russia, Ruslan Abdulbasirov and Sergei Mitusov led the Russians with 14 points apiece.
The Emerging Boomers’ offensive firepower was on display in the opening moments, as they burst out of the blocks with an 11-2 lead after just two minutes, forcing Russia into a timeout. It was the defensive work of Xavier Cooks and Vasiljevic, who had a block and steal on consecutive possessions respectively, that ignited some easy, fast break points for Australia. In the half court, Mark Radford’s men were able to implement numerous back cuts and off ball screens to find avenues to score.
Vasiljevic led all scorers for the Emerging Boomers in the first quarter with seven points, while Russia’s Abdulbasirov had 10. Russia was able to keep pace with Australia after the hot start, with the Boomers taking a six-point lead into the second period.
The Emerging Boomers had a slight lapse in concentration to begin the second quarter, with Russia bringing the deficit down to a single point in less than a minute. However, after they regained their bearings, Australia put on an offensive onslaught to take a commanding 56-36 lead into the long break.
Thanks to a defensive structure that consisted of man-to-man, zone and double-team pressure on the ball handler, the Emerging Boomers were able to force 14 first half turnovers, which they capitalised on, 18 of their 56 points coming from that source. Australia had 12 steals to halftime, another indication of their relentlessness. The defensive mentality was able to free the court open and allow Radford’s squad to pour in easy points.
Their offensive proficiency was on display against Russia’s set defense as well, the Emerging Boomers shooting 56 percent from the field in the first half, while also adding seven three-pointers. Vasiljevic continued his hot shooting form from the first period, entering the change rooms with 18 points, connecting on four triples. Bar Tanner Krebs, every Emerging Boomer who played in the opening half scored. Gorjok Gak provided the highlight of the first 20 minutes with a put-back dunk with 2:41 remaining in the half, to extend Australia’s advantage to 22-points.
Abdulbasirov remained Russia’s highest scorer, but didn’t add to the 10-points he amassed in the first quarter.
A sloppy start to the third period, filled with turnovers, offensive fouls and missed shots from both sides, did little to lower Australia’s stranglehold on the contest. Even though the Emerging Boomers’ first basket came at the 6:40 mark of the term, Australia stuck to their strict defensive framework and entered the final break with a 70-48 lead.
Daniil Aksenov provided some entertainment for the fans, sinking a buzzer beating three-pointer at the end of the third period from just inside the half court line.
The final quarter followed a similar script, as the Emerging Boomers controlled the flow of the game. Gak was able to showcase his athleticism and bounce around the basket in the last 10 minutes, running amuck inside the paint.
Australia’s next challenge is against Mozambique on 25 August at 12:00pm, with a win securing their place in the quarterfinals. The win against Russia was crucial, giving them the head-to-head advantage should they finish tied in third place.
Australia 89: Vasiljevic 22, Gak 16, McVeigh 11 Russia 71: Abdulbasirov 14, Mitusov 14
Emerging Boomers Schedule (all times AEST)
Pool D August 20: Australia lost to Ukraine 76-80 August 21: Australia defeated Lithuania 84-82 August 23: Australia lost to Israel 72-89 August 24: Australia defeated Russia 89-71 August 25: Australia vs Mozambique at 12:00pm August 27: Quarterfinals August 28: Semifinals August 29: Grand Final