The Australian Boomers opened their FIBA 2019 World Cup tournament with a bang, coming off Sunday with a solid 108-92 win over Canada. A second win all but guarantees their advancement to the second round. Their second game in the World Cup sees them take on African nation Senegal.
The Boomers were tested during the third quarter --they allowed an incredible 37 points to Canada-- but came home strong behind some stellar play from Matthew Dellavedova, winning the final period 32-15, and in turn the match. Dellavedova's performance against Canada (24 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists) made him the first Australian player to score 20+ points, grab 5+ rebounds and make 5+ assists in a FIBA Basketball World Cup game, since Andrew Gaze against Canada in 1998.
Senegal on the other hand had a tough start to their tournament, losing to Lithuania 101-47. They didn’t score more than 14 points in any one quarter and were completely outclassed.
Apart from five minutes of very poor defence in the third quarter, Andrej Lemanis should be happy with what the Boomers showed against Canada, something he confirmed post-game on Sunday.
"There were some things we did really well for periods of the game, some of the defensive stuff, offensively, it’s a high scoring game right? They scored 23 points in the first five minutes of the third quarter and that’s obviously something that we can go back and have a look at and try to fix moving forwards.
"Outside of that five minutes I was really pleased with the effort we gave and it was good to be tested like that in a game that matters and find a way to hold our nerve, get back together, start playing some good basketball and work our way to what ended up being a good solid win. "
The Boomers moved the ball well and were not exposed in the pick and roll as much as we saw in the World Cup warmup games. Their anchor is truly their defence, as we saw against Canada. They will need to iron out any lapses - should they advance in the tournament and play against the world’s best, mistakes like these will see them put to the sword.
Senegal is an interesting proposition, as they have serious length and athleticism, but lack the overall talent and execution of the Aussies. Their half-court offence was very poor against Lithuania, and the looks they were after in their sets were easily shut down.
There were plenty of occasions that their plays broke down into one-on-one basketball, which, with their level of talent, isn’t a way they are going to win games.
Their shooting from distance is another major issue, as they shot 1/23 (4.3%) from the land of plenty against Lithuania, which is the lowest percentage for a team in a game at the World Cup since 1994.
The African nation look very dangerous in transition, which means it will be extra important for the Aussies to look after the ball. They didn’t do it overly well against Canada, posting 13 turnovers --10 in the first half, and 3 in the third quarter-- and no doubt it will be a point of focus for the coaching staff pregame.
Expect Australia’s offensive execution to be too much for Senegal, with the likes of Landale, Bogut and Baynes to cause issues, similar to how Domantas Sabonis and Jonas Valanciunas fared in the early parts of the Senegal vs Lithuania match.
Australia - Chris Goulding
Although Matthew Dellavedova was the player of the opening game for Australia, Chris Goulding provided an incredible spark, scoring 16 points in just 17 minutes.
In a game that the green and gold should win, and potentially blow out in a similar way Lithuania did, Goulding should see more minutes. He is shooting the ball with incredible confidence and has shown a great ability to create his own shot off the dribble, which will no doubt prove important for the Aussies in this game but also for the remainder of the tournament.
Senegal - Maurice Ndour
Maurice Ndour is one of the big names for Senegal, having spent time in the NBA, along with Spanish team Real Madrid and now Valencia.
He struggled to really get going against Lithuania, shooting 4/9 from the field, 0/3 from deep for just eight points. However, he is a streaky player that can be a serious problem if he manages to find his stroke, specifically in the mid-range.
Throw in his length and defensive ability (4 steals & 2 blocks vs Lithuania), and you have a guy who can cause headaches for the opposition. Australia will have to make sure they look after the ball around Ndour, otherwise, he could string some cheap baskets together and catch fire.
Opta Match Facts
🏀 Senegal have only won two of their 16 games played in the preliminary round of the FIBA Basketball World Cup, both these wins coming in 2014 (against Puerto Rico & Croatia).
🏀 Australia scored the joint-most points on Gameday 1 (108, alongside Italy), their best tally in a FIBA Basketball World Cup game. On the other side, Senegal scored fewer points than any other team in the opening gameday this year (47).
🏀 No team scored less 3-pointers in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2014 than Senegal (29), with only Korea (26.5%) having a lower 3P% than Senegal (27.4%) during that tournament.
To put it simply, this is a game Australia should win, and win easily. Their size and skill should be too much for Senegal, and if they can look after the ball they will be very difficult to stop.
If the African nation are to have any chance of winning, they need to wreak havoc on defence and avoid just playing one out offence that is easy to defend. Everything will need to go right for them, and after seeing the display against Lithuania, it seems very unlikely that it will happen.
Keep your eye on Andrej Lemanis and what he decides to in regards to lineups and sets. Don’t be surprised if he throws a few more defensive looks at Senegal compared to what we saw against Canada, while the rotations, all things going well, will also be slightly different. As mentioned earlier, Chris Goulding should get an extended run, while the rest of the NBL group should see more minutes than what they did against Canada.
It's also worth watching out for Andrew Bogut, who suffered an ankle injury against Germany less than a week ago. It didn't seem to bother him much in the Boomers opener, but this game could be a great opportunity for Lemanis to rest him entirely, or play him in a limited role so that his ankle can continue to heal.
The Australian Boomers play Senegal next in the group stage, on 3 Sep 2019, Tuesday at 5:30pm AEST. For Australian fans, the Boomers’ run in the 2019 FIBA World Cup can be viewed on Kayo Sports and Foxtel.
Australian Boomers schedule for 2019 FIBA World Cup: (All times AEST)
September 3: Boomers vs. Senegal, 5:30pm
September 5: Boomers vs. Lithuania, 9:30pm
September 7 & 9: Round of 16
September 10 & 11: Quarter-Finals
September 13: Semi-Finals
September 15: Medal Games