Olympics: Bogut rested in victory against China
Following their narrow loss to the USA, Australia have cruised to a 25 point victory against China to improve to 3-1 at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Playing without star center Andrew Bogut, the Boomers' reserves helped overcome a slow start to power away to a commanding 93-68 win. Australia were well served by their front court, with new Brisbane Bullets recruit Cameron Bairstow leading the way.
Bairstow led 5 Boomers in scoring in double figures, delivering a team-high 17 points and 9 rebounds. He received great support from Brock Motum who poured in 15 points (6/9 FG), with David Andersen, Aron Baynes and Ryan Broekhoff all adding 12 points each. China's former NBA star Yi Jianlian led China with a game-high 20 points and 9 rebounds.
After a grueling schedule that included wins against France, Serbia and a narrow loss to the USA, head coach Andrej Lemanis opted to rest star center Andrew Bogut to ensure he remained fresh for the knockout stages.
Two quick fouls in the opening minutes by Andersen, Bogut's replacement in the starting 5, forced him to the bench with Cameron Bairstow injected into the game. He had an immediate impact, rejecting Yi Jianlian at one end, and getting to the line for two made free throw's at the other. Not long after he landed a big trey to show he also has range, and when he netted a mid-range jumper, he has 7 points to pace the Boomers early.
Aron Baynes was also having an impact in the paint with a nice jam, set up superbly by Matthew Dellavedova. Brock Motum rounded out the period with a tip-in just before time expired to push the Boomers ahead 17-14 at the first break. China's crisp passing and ability to prevent Australia from scoring freely was keeping them in the game while Australia's offense which has been so effective across the first three games, looked a little sloppy.
Motum began to make an impact after seeing little court time in their previous three games. He relished his time on court and managed to get the to free throw line. Not long after he was found on the backdoor cut for the flush. It was then that Patty Mills decided to get in on the action, connecting on a wide-open trey from the wing.
After struggling with his shot across the first three games, Ryan Broekhoff finally found the bottom of the net from long-range to get going. Andersen re-entered the game mid-way through the second period with immediate effect, scoring the Boomers' next 5 points. After some good defensive pressure, Mills would find Joe Ingles on the breakaway, and suddenly the lead had been pushed out to 9 points.
Australia were finding some offensive rhythm late in the period, with beautiful ball movement from Mills to Baynes to Motum for the reverse. Baynes would score again to close out half, earning the Boomers their largest lead of the game, 44-34.
China's Yi Jianlan was keeping his country in the game, draining three-pointers and throwing down a big dunk. He managed to deliver 14 points on 6/8 shooting (2/2 3PT) across the first two periods to lead all scorers. For the Boomers, it was the big men leading the way, with Baynes and Motum both adding 8 points, while Bairstow had 7 and Dellavedova had 6 assist to keep him on track to maintain his tournament-leading average of 11.3 dimes per game. Lemanis was also taking the opportunity to spread the minutes, with everyone barring Bogut and three-point threat Chris Goulding hitting the floor in the first half.
Australia opened the third term far more strongly, with Mills finding Andersen for the mid-range jumper and then Ingles hitting Dellavedova with a pin-point pass in the paint for a reverse lay-up. Ingles maintained his play making duties, with Andersen finishing off his good work with a three-pointer as Australia opened up a 15 point margin.
China continued to fight on admirably, forcing a shot-clock violation and scoring at the other end. However Motum again was able to slip behind the defense for another score. Damian Martin even got in on the act, connecting from beyond the arc for another Ingles assist.
The game turned into a foul-fest, with a double foul and double technical called in the one play. Not long after, Motum was called for an unsportsmanlike foul after shoving his opponent, with no love lost between the two sides.
Motum was able to maintain his composure, with the forward able to score again. When Bairstow scored off a nice seal in the paint, Australia has opened up a 19 point lead. Martin drew a trademark charge and was getting under the Chinese players' skin. Goulding pulled down a big rebound and was fouled, sending him to the free throw line. He made both to score his first Olympic points, ensuring Australia led by 15 points at the last change.
Dellavedova was involved in everything early in the final term. He set up Andersen and then Baynes for easy scores in the paint to keep the Boomers in control. The Boomers forced a timeout when Broekhoff fed Kevin Lisch who drained the transition triple, extending the lead to 22 points and ensuring all 11 Australian's had scored. China just had no answers, as Australia demonstrated their depth.
Australia's bench players would close out the game, with Broekhoff managing to finally rediscovering his stroke. Martin and Goulding who has seen little action up until this game, both received valuable court time. Bairstow continued to feast on the Chinese, collecting his 17th point of the contest in persisting on his own miss.
Goulding dished out his 4th assist when he found a streaking Motum for the fast break lay-in. Motum would then go on to score his 15th point as the Boomers cruised to a 25 point victory.
The Boomers dominated the Chinese in the paint, winning the rebound count 35-21, with a 15-5 offensive board advantage and 50-28 point difference. With Lemanis running his bench, they provided a whopping 54 points, led by Bairstow, Motum and Broekhoff.
After a sloppy start, it was just the game the Boomers needed as everyone saw good playing time. Baynes and Ingles were the only players to log more than 20 minutes on court, with Andersen playing the least at just under 15 minutes. It is a situation that Lemanis will likely try to adopt next against Venezuela, who have only a 4 point win against China to their name.
Australia are now guaranteed a top 2 place in Group A ahead of the knockout stages.
Watch the Boomers take on Venezuela from 8:00am AEST on Monday morning.