Australia had to do it tough against the Dominican Republic in Nanjing on Saturday night but still prevailed 82-76 to remain undefeated at the FIBA World Cup but they are still not guaranteed of reaching the quarter finals.
Dominican Republic was fighting to keep its own hopes alive of advancing to the quarter finals so threw everything at causing what would have been a significant upset against the Boomers.
There was a genuine chance of that upset, though, for much of the evening and it wasn’t until the last quarter when the Boomers pulled away to lead at one stage in double-figures before ending up winning by six.
The game was right up for grabs midway through the third quarter with scores tied at 46-46 and despite the Boomers losing Aron Baynes when he fouled out, again Patty Mills with support from Jock Landale and Chris Goulding got rolling to lead Australia to the crucial win.
Despite the Boomers having won all four matches so far in the World Cup, it does appear they will need to beat France on Monday night to guarantee a spot in the quarter finals.
A loss to France, will likely see both the French and Lithuanian teams move into the quarter finals leaving Australia out in the cold.
It was a scrappy win for the Boomers but to Dominican Republic’s credit, they delivered a spirited performance knowing their tournament was on the line.
Australia finished the night shooting 30/65 at 46 per cent from the field and 9/27 from three-point range at 33 per cent. Opposed to that, Dominican Republic went 29/60 at 48 per cent from the floor and 3/14 at 21 per cent from deep.
The Boomers did dominate the glass with 40 rebounds to 29 but 16 turnovers would have again been a concern for coach Andrej Lemanis even if they did force the Dominicans into 18.
Patty Mills once again top-scored for the Boomers with 19 points, nine assists, four rebounds and two steals with Jock Landale stepping up for 13 points.
Chris Goulding continues to prove he belongs on the world stage with 15 points as well while Aron Baynes still had 10 points and five rebounds in just 16 minutes before fouling out during the third quarter.
Andrew Bogut added eight points, eight rebounds and six assists, and it’s not inconceivable he could have scored the World Cup’s first ever triple-double had he played more than 17 minutes.
Nick Kay again stood tall for seven points and eight rebounds with Matthew Dellavedova contributing six points and seven assists while Nathan Sobey and Joe Ingles scored two points each.
Eloy Vargas finished with 16 points and seven rebounds for Dominican Republic while Victor Liz had 14 points, four assists and four steals, Rigoberto Mendoza 12 points, five rebounds and three steals, and Eulis Baez 10 points and four boards.
The Boomers just couldn’t shake a determined Dominican Republic the entire evening. Patty Mills found Matthew Dellavedova for a triple to start the game and then Aron Baynes scored inside, but the Dominicans steadied.
Australia threatened to open a handy lead again at 17-11 when Andrew Bogut finished an alley-oop on a pass from Dellavedova, but still by quarter-time the lead was only five in favour of the Boomers.
Joe Ingles and Sadiel Rojas then split tech fouls to start the second quarter and it was more of the same.
The Boomers threatened to pull away leading by eight early in the term and then again by seven just before half-time, but by the major break Australia only led 40-38 thanks to a three on the buzzer for Dominican Republic from Luis Montero.
Victor Liz then tied scores up to start the second half but Australia responded with a big block from Baynes on Liz and then scores to Baynes inside and a dunk from Landale.
The Dominicans wouldn’t go away, though, and were back level five minutes into the quarter as Lemanis called for time. Australia responded with the next seven points and would lead by five still at three quarter-time.
Australia did lead by double-figures briefly during the fourth quarter and Dominican Republic never quite got close enough to threaten, but still nothing came easy for the Boomers in the six-point win.
The Boomers now face a critical clash with France on Monday night while Dominican Republic will play Lithuania.
FIBA WORLD CUP – SECOND ROUND
AUSTRALIA 82 (Patty Mills 19, Chris Goulding 15, Jock Landale 13)
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 76 (Eloy Vargas 16, Victor Liz 14, Rigoberto Mendoza 12)