The Australian Boomers have overcome a massive scare and huge third quarter from Canada to respond in kind with a dominant fourth to win 108-92 in the opening match of the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
Both teams were familiar with one another having done battle just a couple of weeks ago in two exhibition matches in Perth as part of the World Cup build-up and they split those two contests.
Canada had added Sacramento Kings NBA guard Cory Joseph from that group that played two games in Australia against the Boomers and two more against New Zealand and one against the USA, but it was still the Boomers in control over the first half.
The World Cup campaign for both nations got underway on Sunday in Dongguan and the Boomers started impressively leading by nine at quarter-time having put up 29 points.
They retained control to head into half-time as well leading 52-40, but it was a stunning third quarter display from which they put up 37 points that turned the game on its head.
It was the first time in World Cup play that Canada had scored 37 points and that Australia had conceded that many in an individual quarter, and the Canadians went from being down 12 at half-time to up one heading into the fourth.
While the job was ahead of them at three quarter-time, the Boomers sure responded in the fourth term in an impressive way and dominated both ends of the floor.
They held Canada to just 15 more points and piled on 32 themselves to go on and record the 16-point win to start the World Cup campaign in the manner they would have been hoping.
Australian coach Andrej Lemanis liked the performance overall and take out the five minutes of the third quarter when Canada caught fire, he felt it was it was mostly what he expects from Boomers basketball.
“There were some things that we did really well for periods of the game and some of the defensive stuff was good,” Lemanis said.
“Offensively, it was a high-scoring game and they scored 23 points in the first five minutes of the third quarter which is something we’ll go back and have a look at to try and fix moving forwards.
“But outside of that five minutes, I was really pleased with the effort that 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 and start playing some good basketball to work our way to a good, solid win.
“All the stuff that shines through in Boomers teams is stuff that we believe is going to hold us in good stead. We shot 70 per cent from inside the arc and I think part of that is because we were prepared to get in there and share the ball.
“We had 24 assists as a result of that and that’s something with Boomers team that you never have to question is everyone’s willingness to play in the best interests of the group, and execute their role in the best interest of the team. It’s pleasing to get that win.”
He might not have turned it on offensively with the Boomers during the exhibition matches against Canada in Perth and the USA in Melbourne, but Matthew Dellavedova sure saved his best shooting to open the World Cup.
The NBA championship winning guard delivered a standout performance made up of 24 points, five rebounds and five assists while shooting a stunning 9/13 from the field and 6/10 from three-point territory.
Chris Goulding has now ensured he is an important part of this Australian line-up which he established in the exhibition games the past two weeks. He finished the World Cup opener with 16 points while hitting 6/7 from the floor and 2/3 from deep.
“It was good to start the tournament with a win. Our first half we showed that we can do some really good stuff, and we also showed that if we weren’t where we needed to be defensively that Canada are a great team,” Goulding said.
“They showed that by pulling back towards the end of the half and we weren’t ready to go at the start of the third quarter. When you’re playing quality opposition, they can put points on the board quick.
“We got slapped in the face a little bit and we realised the situation that we were in, and picked it up again and managed to get a good, solid win.”
Patty Mills played 32 minutes and fought hard up against Cory Joseph and Kevin Pangos for the most part to end up with 15 points and six assists while Joe Ingles produced a tremendous all-round showing in 34 minutes with 13 points, nine assists, five rebounds and three steals.
Andrew Bogut, despite receiving some not totally unexpected jeers from the Chinese crowd, also produced 12 points and nine rebounds with Aron Baynes contributing 10 points and four boards, Nick Kay eight points and three rebounds, and Jock Landale eight points, six boards and three assists.
Khem Birch, Canada’s other current NBA player with the Orlando Magic, top-scored for his nation with 18 points and five rebounds while Cory Joseph had 16 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals having just joined up with the national team in China.
Kevin Pangos added another 14 points and eight assist for Canada, Melvin Ejim nine points and seven rebounds, Phil Scrubb nine points, Thomas Scrubb eight points and Brady Heslip eight points.
Australia will now take on Senegal in its second game as part of Group H on Tuesday while Canada will play Lithuania.
FIBA WORLD CUP – GROUP PHASE
AUSTRALIA 108 (Matthew Dellavedova 24, Chris Goulding 16, Patty Mills 15)
CANADA 92 (Khem Birch 18, Cory Joseph 16, Kevin Pangos 14)