Written for NBL.com.au by Tom Hersz
Australia Boomers v Senegal
When: 5.30pm (AEST), Tuesday 3 September
Where: Dongguan Basketball Center, Dongguan, China
Broadcast: Fox Sports More; Kayo Sports
If the opening game on Sunday was a test of how good the Boomers can be, this next game is about solidifying that.
The Boomers stamped their authority on Group H with an impressive 108-92 win over Canada.
“It was good to be tested like that in a game that matters and find a way to just hold our nerve, get back together, start playing some good basketball and work our way to what ended up being a good, solid win,” said Andrej Lemanis post-game.
The next test is going to be one of concentration. Senegal, who fell to Lithuania 101-47, will likely not challenge Australia, but will provide a great opportunity for the Boomers to work on some deficiencies and prove they can play high-level basketball for a full forty minutes.
A win would put the Boomers one step closer to advancing, while a big win could do wonders for their confidence and chemistry going into their next game and as the tournament progresses.
Senegal will be out to prove that their opening game was an aberration. A team playing with nothing to lose can be a dangerous team so the Aussies will need to ensure there is no complacency at any stage of this one.
The results from the opening round carry forward to the round of 16, so there is plenty of incentive for the Boomers to perform. Just how well they do so is what we’ll find out.
Last time they met
You have to go back to the 1980 Moscow Olympics to find the last Men’s game between these two nations. On that day, the Boomers defeated Senegal in the classification rounds 95-64.
Ian Davies led the way with 32 points and 7 rebounds in that contest, supported by Phil Smyth with 13 points and 3 steals.
Results so far
The Boomers build up to China has been well documented and while there were doubts on their ability to put it all together consistently, those doubts quickly dissipated in the opening game versus Canada – in the first half at least.
Australia came out strong behind some aggressive offence from Patty Mills, Joe Ingles and Jock Landale, quickly building a 9 point lead and drawing a lot of fouls on the Canadian defence. Chris Goulding then came in off the bench and provided an extra spark with 7 first quarter points, including a three pointer right before the buzzer.
The second quarter saw more of the same as foul trouble started to become an issue for Canada. The Boomers had the ball moving, they controlled the boards and were shooting well. The lead grew to 17 points on a Nick Kay lay-up before it was pegged back to 12 points at the main break.
Seven different Boomers players had scored 5 or more points in the first half, paced by Ingles with 10 points. The only negatives being turnovers and some continued struggles in pick and roll coverage.
? @matthewdelly was the #FIBAWC @TclCorporation Player of the Game from #CANAUS with a solid performance of 24 points, 5 rebounds & 5 assists in @BasketballAus ??’s opening win! #BornToLead pic.twitter.com/zGV5bsJaC2
— Basketball World Cup (@FIBAWC) September 1, 2019
However it all went bad and quickly in the third quarter as Canada got hot and Australia couldn’t get stops. A 12-point lead evaporated in minutes with the Boomers a little stunned. Canada took the lead but to the Boomers credit, they never let them pull away, setting up a thrilling final quarter that looked to be anyone’s game.
But Matthew Dellavedova had other ideas. He stayed hot from three-point range, hitting two big ones early in the fourth to give the Boomers some breathing room and they continued to build a double-digit lead from there.
“We got slapped in the face a little bit,” Chris Goulding said post-game.
“We realised the situation that we were in and picked it up again, and managed to get a solid win.”
A 16-2 run to start the quarter was enough to give the Boomers some breathing room to go on with it and they finished the game strong. After giving up 37 points in the third, Australia outscored Canada 32-15 in the fourth, going on to win 108-92.
“It shows that we can be really explosive offensively and defensively when we’re committed and playing the right way,” Goulding acknowledged.
“It also shows that if you take your foot off the gas a little bit, there are teams in this competition that can run the score up, as we did; Canada did.
“So just minimising our lapses; basketball is a game of runs but at the moment the other teams’ runs kinda get really large, so minimising them and knowing what we can do to stop it.
“Settle down, get back to what we need to do and plug away and chip away at the scoreboard in a positive manner for us.”
Dellavedova led the way with 24 points (6-10 3FGs), 5 rebounds and 5 assists, while Joe Ingles was in many ways the orchestrator of the win with 13 points, 9 assists, 5 rebounds and 3 steals. Chris Goulding finished with 16 points in 18 minutes off the bench as the Boomers secured a satisfying first up win in the so-called ‘Group of Death’.
Senegal’s introduction to the 2019 World Cup was less welcoming. It was anticipated that they would be the weakest link in Group H and following the result of their opening game against Lithuania, that seems to be the case.
They started very big with effectively one guard, Xane Dalmeida (6’0”), and four frontcourt players in team captain Maurice Ndour (6’9”), Babacar Touré (6’9”), Mouhammad Faye (6’10”) and Hamady Ndiaye (7’0”).
Lithuania forced Senegal into a number of perimeter shots in the first half where they struggled considerably, hitting just 1-13 3FGs and 10-36 overall, trailing 48-21 at the main break.
Despite Senegal’s size, Lithuania took control of the paint, drawing 12 fouls, getting to the line 14 times and controlling the boards. Ndour was the focal point of the Senegalese offence with 8 field goal attempts, but he connected on just three of them for 6 points, while as a team they did not attempt a single free throw.
The second half only got worse for the African nation. Senegal won 2 of their 5 games in the group phase of the 2014 FIBA World Cup, but it is hard to see them winning any games this time around.
Lithuania continued to apply the defensive pressure and force their opponents into contested jump shots and that was never going to be a recipe for success. The margin blew out to 44 at three-quarter time and there was no reprieve in the fourth.
Senegal failed to connect on ten further three-point attempts in the second half as Lithuania ran out 101-47 winners, leaving Senegal to wonder how they can adjust and stop the bleeding in their next game.
“We will never give up,” said Senegal centre Youssoupha Ndoye post-game.
“We have a lot of respect for ourselves. We are professionals. Lithuania played better. They played a 40 minute game. We tried our best. I think that today, they (Lithuania) were the better team.”
Overall, Senegal finished just 1-23 from three-point range, hit just 28.6% (20-70) from the field overall and were outrebounded 44-32. One positive was the 15 offensive rebounds they grabbed, however they converted that into just 8 second chance points.
Ndour finished with just 8 points as did Touré and Ibrahima Faye as no player managed to hit double figures.
“It was a very tough game for us obviously but we have 3 to 4 games to go in this competition so we are looking forward to our next game,” Ndoye added.
Players to Watch – Senegal
Maurice Ndour: Their team captain is also their highest profile player. With the absence of Gorgui Dieng from this roster, Ndour is the only player on Senegal’s roster with NBA regular season experience. He played 32 games with the New York Knicks in the 2016-17 season, starting four of those. He had a career high of 15 points against the Memphis Grizzlies late in the season. Ndour, who will be a teammate of Australian Brock Motum with Valencia Basket in the ACB this coming season, is one of their main options on offence, but is also a very talented defender. Ndour won the VTB (Russia) Defensive Player of the Year award this past season playing for UNICS Kazan.
— Basketball World Cup (@FIBAWC) September 1, 2019
Babacar Touré: A veteran five man, Touré has played professionally in Switzerland since 2007 where he has had a lot of individual and team success. He is an aggressive interior presence on both ends of the floor, attacking the boards and providing rim protection. Touré averaged 17 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in World Cup Qualifying and led Senegal with 4 offensive boards against Lithuania, so will present a solid match up for Aron Baynes and Andrew Bogut.
Mouhammad Faye: At 6’10” with the ability to stretch the floor, Faye is another player that the Boomers will need to be mindful of. He struggled from deep in the opener, going 0 for 8, but is a proven shooter across his professional career in Europe, where he’s a veteran of more than a decade. Faye shot over 35% from deep last season for KK Crvena Zvezda of Serbia and won the ABA League (Adriatic League) title. Faye is also a solid offensive rebounder and has the length to cause issues if not kept off the glass.
Players to Watch – Australia
Matthew Dellavedova: Much has been made of Dellavedova’s shooting mechanics recently. He’s been hard at work all offseason on changing his release to make it faster and a little smoother. The results in the warm up games were mixed with Delly having some success, but generally struggling for consistency. That all changed against Canada though as he hit early and then came home with a flurry. All in all, Delly hit 6 of 10 from deep and along with his trademark defence and hustle, impacted the game on both ends. He likely won’t shoot like that every game and won’t be relied on to score 20+ points, but if he can consistently provide some extra offence and help to space the floor so teams have to close out hard on him, that’s an added bonus for this Boomers team.
— NBL (@NBL) September 1, 2019
Jock Landale: Locked in as the starting power forward, Landale scored the first point of this Boomers campaign and stayed aggressive early. He set the tone with his energy and attacked the offensive glass to get much needed extra possessions. Landale has also shown in the warm up games that he can do a job defensively. He runs the floor and can also knock down open threes, giving the Boomers another NBA calibre player that may help shape how successful this team can be.
Joe Ingles: When all is said and done, despite Patty Mills’ scoring ability, Baynes and Bogut’s rebounding and rim protection, Dellavedova’s hustle, and Chris Goulding’s shooting, this team will go as far as Joe Ingles takes them. To borrow an oft-used sports phrase, he is the straw that stirs the Boomers drink and that was evident against Canada. Ingles’ rare skillset to play anywhere from point guard to power forward makes him the most dynamic player on this team and his playmaking is just as important as his scoring ability. Getting nine assists from your small forward is huge in any game and after some inconsistent play in the warm up games, Ingles looks to have entered ‘tournament mode’ very quickly.
While lacking depth, Team Senegal had success in the African qualifying games with a number of players who contributed. One of their more consistent players was Youssoupha Ndoye who averaged 12.3 points and 6.4 rebounds while shooting 64.9% from the field over 10 games. Ndoye had two stints with the San Antonio Spurs in Summer League and had a training camp deal with them in 2015. He now plays in the French LNB Pro A where he led the league in rebounding this past season. At 6’11”, he’s another big body that the Boomers will need to pay close attention to.
A pleasant surprise for the Boomers so far has been Nick Kay. The All-NBL forward who played a major role in the Perth Wildcats 2018-19 title was the talk of Boomers camp. Lemanis brought him in for his IQ, his work-rate, and his ability to play at the front of their press. He has been closing games in the warm ups and did so again in the opener versus Canada, making two big baskets down the stretch to help put the game beyond doubt. Kay isn’t dominant in any one area, but does everything well and will continue to impact games as a result.
The Boomers showed in the opening game that their collective belief is well founded. Even when challenged, they responded in the spirit you’d hope to see from a team that is going to seriously contend for a podium finish.
The most pleasing part was the contributions they got from multiple sources with everyone doing their part at different points of the game for the greater good.
“Something with Boomers teams that you never have to question is everybody’s willingness to play in the best interests of the group and execute their role in the best interests of the team,” said Lemanis after defeating Canada.
The cohesion of this group has been well documented and will continue to put them in good stead whenever they are challenged throughout this World Cup campaign.
Against Senegal, they are unlikely to be challenged by their opponents, but will challenge each other to correct the things they didn’t do well against Canada and ensure they execute for a full forty minutes.
Their opponents will also be looking to tidy things up after an embarrassing first up performance against Lithuania and they will undoubtedly shoot better than they did on Sunday.
Senegal’s length and athleticism will be a good test, but ultimately the talent and depth of this Boomers squad will prove too much to handle. Australia by 35 points.