France smother Booomers ahead of World Cup
The Australian Boomers have gone down to France 73-50 in Strasbourg in their last hit-out before their 2014 FIBA World Cup campaign begins later this week in Spain. For the first time on their European tour, the Boomers struggled offensively through an entire match, shooting just 30% from the field. However Aron Baynes continued to be a pillar of consistency in delivering 17 points and 11 rebounds.
Brad Newley looks to score against France - Courtesy Basketball Australia
France led for the entire match with all starters scoring in double figures with Nicolas Batum the leading scorer for the French, as he was in their previous game against the Boomers in Nice, with 19 points. While Baynes was the only scorer in double figures for the Australians, minutes were again spread fairly evenly across the team with point guard Adam Gibson again used sparingly as he was in the previous match against Finland.
With the Boomers first World Cup match less than a week away, it may have been a case of coach Andrej Lemanis not wanting to show his full hand so close to the tournament and would be hoping today's offensive struggles could simply be left behind as part of their preparations.
Boomers Assistant Coach Luc Longley said after the game that France's impressive defense ultimately changed their offensive focus, something that resulted in shooting 18/61 from the floor.
"Their rim protection saw us get a little shy and we started to go away from the basket, settling for fade-aways and short jumpers, which isn’t going to get it done at this level."
While the Boomers offensive struggles would be an obvious talking point to come out of the match, defensively the Boomers coaching staff are happy with their work at that end of the floor.
"As much as we struggled through parts of the game, to only give up 73 points against a quality French team was testament to the quality defence we play and have been playing throughout this tour," Longley said.
With Baynes' continued good form in the paint at both ends of the floor, it would appear confirmed that Nathan Jawai's role with the team will be a limited one after again be largely ineffective in just under 11 minutes court time going 0/2 from the field along with 1 rebound.
While Jawai has not progressed during preparations as many would have hoped, one player to put his hand up and keep it there has been swingman Ryan Broekhoff who again started for the Boomers with Lemanis obviously keen on having his long range fire power on call from the opening tip. Broekhoff only managed the one attempt from long range in this game in a night to forget from downtown for the Boomers as the team shot 3/12 while France showed how it was done going an impressive 10/26 from distance.
The Boomers will now travel to the Spanish island of Gran Canaria as they prepare for a tough opening match against Slovenia and will be desperate to get their campaign off to a positive start and ensure a top four finish in Group D to progress to the next round.
Australia opens the 2014 FIBA World Cup against Slovenia in Gran Canaria, Spain on August 31 at 1:26am AEST live on ABC2 or online on FIBA's livebasketball.tv.
Preview of Australia's Group D Opponents (in order)
Slovenia (Preview) - 31 August 2014, 1:26am AEST Korea (Preview) - 31 August 2014, 9:26pm AEST Lithuania (Preview) - 3 September 2014, 1:26am AEST Mexico (Preview) - 3 September 2014, 9:26pm AEST Angola (Preview) - 4 September 2014, 9:26pm AEST