On to the semi-finals: Three thoughts from Boomers' win vs Czech Republic
Australia continue their unbeaten run at the FIBA 2019 World Cup. The team's execution once again proves to be too clinical for their opposition to handle.
In contrast to Lithuania and France, the Czech Republic had suffered defeat in this tournament, before taking on Australia. The Boomers came into the quarter-finals as the favourites.
As we’ve seen recently, Australia have shown a penchant for playing down to their competition at times, by being sloppy and careless at times. A similar sort of script played out on Wednesday, but a dominant third quarter removed any doubts, as the Boomers held off any Czech Republic run and cruised to a comfortable win, 82-70.
1. Boomers will go as far as Patty Mills leads them
From the opening tip, it was clear Patty Mills came to play. The first quarter was dominated by the shooting guard, as he scored 13 of Australia’s first 17 points, pulling up from anywhere and seemingly getting any shot he wished.
Mills added a further 11 points in the remainder of the game, while contributing in other ways to help his team secure victory. Mills’ dominant first quarter meant the Czech players would often overcompensate on their coverage for him, allowing other teammates to benefit with open looks. This was particularly notable when Aussie big men would screen for Mills off the ball, and subsequently end up open around the block, as opposing defenders solely focused on Patty.
Not only this, Mills dished off to his teammates willingly. He often beat his player with a slick crossover move or with his electric speed, and then dump it off to a teammate for an easy shot. Mills ended up finishing the night with a team-high 6 assists to go with his 24 points, that included 6/9 from deep.
Patty Mills affirmed what was already discussed in the preview. He is truly one of the best players at this competition, and Australia’s gold medal chances are directly correlated with Mills’ performances to come.
The Australians were considerably adequate in the first half, despite many of their 3 point shots going astray. Their misses? Mostly difficult or contested shots - the team went 4/14 from deep.
The second half was similar in terms of volume. Yet as Australia increased their 3s made tally, so did their lead. A further five three-pointers were added in the third quarter alone. Chris Goulding (14 points) led the way with two of his own to close the quarter out.
Despite the Czech Republic finishing with a higher three-point percentage for the game, Australia ended up with more 3-point field goals makes, 10 to 7. The Aussies' willingness to take as many 3s as they do makes them vulnerable to a bad performance against Spain - as the saying goes, “live and die by the 3”.
It is important to consider Aron Baynes did not register one three-point field goal in the whole game. His success so far in the tournament from deep meant Czech big man like Ondrej Balvin had to play up to him, allowing driving lanes to be open for Aussies such as Matthew Dellavedova (9 points) and Joe Ingles (6 points).
Overall the Boomers ended 10/24 from 3pt distance (36%) to finish the game, just below their tournament average. Australia’s willingness to shoot 3s will be a pivotal factor in their remaining games. If they can continue to hit at a high clip, they will be in good stead to not only progress into the finals, but to potentially win the World Cup.
3. Turnovers, again
Turning the ball over has been a theme of Australia’s 2019 World Cup campaign. They came into the game leading the tournament in turnovers (out of the quarter finalists) with 13.8 per contest.
The energy from Czech Republic in the first half contributed to sloppy play from the Aussies. Effort and communication from the Czechs led to great defence, which in turn had an impact on Australia’s passing lanes as they coughed the ball up eight times.
Australia’s turnovers clearly correlate with their ups and down as a team. In the first half, the Boomers had eight turnovers as the score was kept close between the two teams, 33-30. Astoundingly, they only committed one turnover in the third quarter, as they went on to outscore the Czech Republic 30-18 in the term.
The Boomers’ third quarter should be a blueprint to how they should approach their next game and potentially beyond. Limiting the turnovers and shooting the 3 ball well will give the team every chance of progressing to the final, and then some.
Czech star Tomas Satoransky grinded out 38 tough minutes of basketball. He nearly had a triple double, scoring 13 points, grabbing 9 rebounds and dishing out 13 assists
Patrick Auda was excellent for the Czech team – scoring 21 points, including 3/3 from distance
Nick Kay and Mitch Creek once again prove to be effective as energy players off the bench, particularly with offensive rebounding
Andrew Bogut’s passing once again looked crisp. He also reached into his bag with a floater and post hook.
Matthew Dellavedova had a bad shooting night, but in typical Delly fashion, still worked his tail off on defence.
Full box score is available on the FIBA website.
The Australian Boomers play Spain next on Friday, 13 Sep at 6pm AEST.
Australian Boomers schedule for 2019 FIBA World Cup: (All times AEST)
September 13: Semi-finals vs Spain, 13 Sep 2019 Friday at 6pm AEST
September 15: Medal games