Olympics: Boomers cruise to 25 point win over Venezuela
No Patty Mills, no problem.
The Boomers, minus Mills who was resting, closed out the group stages in style, earning an 81-56 win over Venezuela.
Australia flexed their muscle in the fourth quarter, extinguishing any chance of a Venezuelan comeback, outscoring them 28-13 in the final period.
With coach Andrej Lemanis giving his bench plenty of opportunity to prove themselves, it was Chris Goulding who stepped up in the extended minutes. The Melbourne United star scored 22 points, while connecting on 6-of-10 from the field, as he provided that offensive spark that many thought he would entering the tournament.
Goulding did what he needed to on the offensive end. He didn’t search for his own shot – instead, Goulding brought into the Boomers pass-first offensive mentality, connecting on the numerous open looks he had, included a four-point play in the fourth term.
Meanwhile, Goulding’s defense, which has been much maligned, was solid enough to justify his case for a greater role in the knockout stages.
Speaking of defense, that’s where Australia basically wrapped this game up in the opening quarter.
The Boomers’ perimeter defense – led by Matthew Dellavedova, Ryan Broekhoff and Damian Martin – was terrific, as Venezuela was forced into three turnovers, resulting in seven Australian points in the first quarter. Additionally, Venezuela were only able to score six points, shooting just 3-of-18 to start the game, as the Boomers gave them nothing easy.
“The smothering defense from Australia has made things miserable for Venezuela,” Andrew Gaze said, on Channel 7's broadcast.
That defensive effort stayed high all game long, apart from some small Venezuelan runs here and there, as the Boomers held their opponents to a 35 per cent shooting rate.
Lemanis used the luxury he earned, as the Boomers already had guaranteed themselves a spot in the knockout stages with their earlier victories. As aforementioned, Mills didn’t play, Dellavedova played just 8:24, while Andrew Bogut played 17:55 - the latter two not playing at all in the fourth quarter.
Subsequently, the Boomers’ bench contributed 39 points in a dominating performance. Following Goulding’s game-high scoring effort, David Andersen scored eight points, Brock Motum five and Kevin Lisch four.
Joe Ingles got into an offensive rhythm, scoring 11 points, connecting on 5-of-9 from the field. Bogut chipped in with 10 points, while Broekhoff (10), Aron Baynes (eight) and Dellavedova (three) rounded out the scoring for the Boomers.
The Boomers assisted on 19 of their 31 made field goals, and outrebounded Venezuela 45-25, in what turned out to be a commanding victory.
One concern did result from the win though, as Cameron Bairstow left in the third quarter, with what appeared to be an injured arm / shoulder. He was taken for x-rays after the game and his status will be updated when appropriate.
The Boomers’ first quarter was clinical.
Following the trend of their first four games, Australia moved the ball with a purpose, assisting on all seven of their made shots in the opening 10 minutes. The ball movement, both on and off the ball, was excellent as the Boomers got a handful of easy scoring opportunities.
It was an even set of contributors to start the game – Bogut had four points, followed by Dellavedova and Ingles with three and Goulding, Baynes and Andersen with two.
Venezuela ensured that the Boomers wouldn’t run away with the game, however, with a scrappy, but effective, second quarter.
“If they play it conventionally, they lose this game by 30,” Gaze said, referencing the necessity for the Venezuelan's to make the game ugly.
It worked, as a belligerent defensive showing slowed down Australia’s attack. It wasn’t textbook defense, but it was effective. Venezuela used a number of holds, bumps and hustle plays to frustrate the Aussies to the point where their lead had been cut back to just four points. Those easy baskets, cuts to the rim and effective screen plays no longer came easy to the Boomers, as Venezuela made them work hard for their scoring opportunities.
Another helpful factor was that Venezuela started to convert on the offensive end.
“It’s impossible to compete,” Gaze said about Venezuela’s first quarter shooting percentage. However, Venezuela outscored Australia 19-16 in the second quarter, while shooting 6-of-13, helping them to get back within seven points at half time.
For the Boomers, who surely felt they should have had a larger lead at the main break, it was Goulding who led the scoring in the first half. Goulding scored 10 points off the bench, shooting 3-of-4 from the field.
Bogut followed up with eight points, as he showed little ill effects after sitting out the Boomers’ previous game against China. He also pulled down four rebounds, as Australia outrebounded Venezuela 20-17 in the first half.
The third quarter seemed like a completely different game, as both teams caught fire on the offensive end, leading to a much more aesthetically pleasing period. The shift in game style favoured the Boomers, as they took a 53-43 lead going into the final quarter.
“This is not want Venezuela wants,” Gaze said, mentioning how the Venezuelans don’t have the talent level to compete against Australia in a high-tempo, offensive game.
The Boomers’ offense fought against Venezuela’s physical defense with swift ball movement and action off the ball, as they continued to get even contributions across the board. While their defense didn’t get back to the intensity they played with in the first quarter, the Boomers were able to shut down Venezuela on occasions, helping maintain a comfortable lead.
“But we aren’t celebrating right now," shared Bogut after the game.
"We haven’t done anything. The quarters is where you make your money and where the real business is. You have one bad game, you are flying home. We know how vital this game is coming up."
Australia now has two days off before their first quarterfinal game on Thursday morning. If the group stages are any indication though, the Boomers should feel confident against anyone.