The first six quarters of the World Cup Exhibition Games might have hardly gone to plan for the Australian Boomers, but things began to click in the second half at RAC Arena on Saturday night to set up the 81-73 win over Canada.
Canada shocked the Boomers in the opening game on Friday night also in Perth to win 90-70 in what was a supremely impressive performance from the visitors who are preparing for the FIBA World Cup with just the one NBA player available, Orlando Magic’s Khem Birch.
The Boomers were playing their first game of the World Cup preparation having been in camp in Melbourne and Perth the past two weeks, so it was only reasonable to expect a rusty performance first up against a Canadian team who had already hit the floor against competitive opposition.
Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis urged patience and that was tested in the first half for sure when at times Australia continued to struggle for cohesiveness and fell down as much as eight.
But even with Patty Mills and Andrew Bogut not suiting up, the inside presence of Aron Baynes helped from Friday night to Saturday and the Boomers would go on to produce a dominant second half outscoring Canada 51 points to 40 to claim the victory.
It’s a confidence-boosting showing for Australia ahead of the games against the USA at Marvel Stadium on Thursday and Saturday ahead of going to China for the first World Cup game against Canada on September 1.
After a tough offensive night on Friday, the Boomers began to find their groove by the second on Saturday in front of more than 10,000 fans. They ended up shooting 12/31 from three at 38 per cent after struggling to 6/34 the night before.
They also ended up with 21 assists on 29 made field goals while winning the rebound count by three.
Jock Landale was once again impressive for the Boomers backing up his 18 points and eight rebounds from Friday with another 13 points and nine boards again earning the start alongside Baynes this time with Bogut not suiting up.
Baynes might have been frustrated at times and ended up fouling out, but he was an interior presence for Australia and produced four points and five rebounds in 17 and-a-half minutes.
Jonah Bolden also wasn’t afraid to get aggressive and had an efficient 12 points and five rebounds in just 18 minutes.
Chris Goulding added 10 points and three assists with Nick Kay contributing nine points and five boards on his home NBL court.
Joe Ingles also put up eight points and six assists for Australia, Matthew Dellavedova eight points and five assists, Cameron Gliddon six points and four rebounds, Nathan Sobey six points and three assists, and Mitch Creek five points.
Canada couldn’t catch fire as they did 24 hours earlier going just 7/25 from three-point range.
Khem Birch did step up to top-score with 18 points for the Canadians while Oshae Brissett produced 14 points and five rebounds, Kaza Kajami-Keane 11 points, three rebounds and three assists, and Melvin Ejim nine points and seven rebounds.
Top-scorer from Friday night, Kevin Pangos, didn’t suit up for Canada.
Canadian associate head coach Geordie Herbert was happy with what his team took over the time in Perth and these two games.
“I thought it was very positive for us, these two games,” Herbert said.
“I thought we played extremely well and we competed, played as a team and last night obviously we shot the ball a little bit better from three-point land. But overall I thought it was a very positive two days for us.”
WORLD CUP EXHIBITION GAME
AUSTRALIAN BOOMERS 81 (Jock Landale 13, Jonah Bolden 12, Chris Goulding 10)
CANADA BASKETBALL 73 (Khem Birch 18, Oshae Brissett 14, Kaza Kajami-Keane 11)