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Lithuania overcomes sloppy Boomers
Lithuania overcame a sloppy Boomers outfit 92-85 in Siauliai to take the honours 2-0 in the friendly games.
A fourth-quarter collapse in game one saw the Boomers go down 80-68 despite the match being tied up with five minutes remaining.
Led by veteran David Andersen (18 points, 6/10 FG) and 2015 NBA champion Andrew Bogut (12 points, 9 rebounds), Australia put up an admirable fight in game two despite the obvious chemistry issues they are working through.
Coach Andrej Lemanis took positives from the series despite his frustration at the lack of execution heading into the 2015 FIBA Oceania Championships.
“The issue for us tonight was turnovers… We had 20-odd (turnovers) during the game, and I think at times our execution offensively was just a little bit erratic. We’re still trying to find our rhythm with that. Defensively, we gave up 92 points. Lithuania shot the ball at 52% basically from the field, 54 from the three.”
With both teams shooting the ball well, Lemanis was correct in that the Boomers lost the match on turnovers and with a couple more weeks in training camp and two more games in Europe to come, they would be hopeful of rectifying this issue.
Lemanis stated that the team had indeed improved from game one, but still had some way to go.
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Matthew Dellavedova (3 points, 2 assists and 5 turnovers) and Chicago Bulls big man Cameron Bairstow (6 points, 2 rebounds) were inserted into the game two line-up to little effect, having sat out game one.
In game one, the absence of Dellavedova and the unavailability of Patty Mills presented the opportunity for Utah Jazz rookie Dante Exum (6 points, 2 assists) and NBL stalwart Adam Gibson (0 points, 3 assists) to stand up, though both performed sporadically and failed to capitalise on the opportunity.
Exum was his mercurial self as he flashed brilliance one moment and exhibited questionable decision-making the next. Though, this is not necessarily a slight on Exum’s game, as the pieces of his game are there, they just need to come together consistently at the international level.
While Bogut’s first match for the Boomers since the 2008 Beijing Olympics was far from ideal, the Warriors veteran went 0/7 to finish scoreless as he tested his mid-range shot and looked to score outside the paint in the international game.
Brock Motum followed his strong NBA Summer League with 19 points, shooting a scintillating 9/12 from the field as the forward considers a partially-guaranteed contract offer from the Utah Jazz.
The two losses were yet another learning curve for the Boomers and show a sign that improvement is needed if they are to challenge the best. World number 4 Lithuania will be one of the Boomers main rivals if they wish to contend for a medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, and their performance showed the talent the basketball-crazed country possesses.
"Having said that they’re a very good basketball team…We always enjoy coming here it’s a wonderful basketball country. The crowds are fantastic and it’s a wonderful environment in which to play basketball and it’s really great for our preparation to be able to come and play against good teams. We will take a lot out of these two games.”
The Boomers will finish their European tour with two friendlies against 13th ranked Slovenia. Lemanis' Boomers will go into the matches slight favourites with Sloevnia missing NBA star Goran Dragic, but it is expected young brother Zoran will join the team on August 1 following Slovenia's 73-68 victory over the New Zealand Tall Blacks.
2015 Boomers European tour
August 3, vs Slovenia – Ljubljana
August 4, vs Slovenia – Ljubljana
2015 FIBA Oceania Qualifying Series
Melbourne, Australia – August 15, 2015: Jayco Australian Opals v NZ Tall Ferns Airbnb Australian Boomers v NZ Tall Blacks
Tauranga, New Zealand – August 17, 2015: NZ Tall Ferns v Jayco Australian Opals
Wellington, New Zealand – August 18, 2015: NZ Tall Blacks v Airbnb Boomers