Hungry Jack's NBL
Boomers Make Winning Start in Okinawa Over Chinese Taipei
The Australian Boomers under coach Rob Beveridge and captain Nick Kay have made the perfect start to their three-game trip to Japan for the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers with Friday's 98-61 win against Chinese Taipei.
With the majority of Australian's first choice NBL, NBA and European based players unavailable for selection due to their club commitments, including regular head coach Brian Goorjian, this Boomers team came together in impressive fashion at Okinawa on Friday.
It's a team coached by one of the country's finest basketball minds Rob Beveridge so they were under some fine tutelage, and they put together a strong performance against Chinese Taipei on Friday.
The Boomers opened up a handy lead early to be 17 points up by quarter-time. That got out to as much as 37, which was the final score, but in between the Boomers were troubled in the third quarter with Chinese Taipei outscoring them 30 points to 22.
However, there was plenty to like in the 37-point win with the Boomers scoring 17 consecutive points at one stage while shooting an outstanding 58 per cent from the field and 42 per cent from deep, while holding their opponents to 36 and 30.
The size advantage for Australia helped on the glass too as the Boomers pulled in 49 rebounds to just 24 from Chinese Taipei.
Boomers captain Nick Kay, who was recently named in the Perth Wildcats 40th Anniversary Team, led from the front with 14 points, seven rebounds and five assists, but he had plenty of impressive support.
Illawarra Hawks guard Alex Mudronja finished with 13 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals on 5/7 shooting while his Hawks teammate Emmett Naar delivered 12 points and three assists.
Perth Wildcats development player Kyle Zunic had 11 points, three boards and two assists, the now Japan-based Angus Brandt 10 points, five rebounds and four assists, and his former Wildcats teammate Rhys Vague eight points and four assists.
The German-based Craig Moller had seven points and seven rebounds, Sean MacDonald seven points, three rebounds and three assists, Sydney Kings youngster Jaylin Galloway five points and two rebounds, Hawks excitement machine Akoldah Gak four points and four boards, and Melbourne United big man David Okwera five points, four rebounds and two assists.
Australia opened up the game with a pair of free-throws to captain Nick Kay before Craig Moller made the first basket. Angus Brandt then joined in before Alex Mudronja drained a three for the 9-5 lead.
Rhys Vague then got the crowd out of their seats with a throwdown and he backed that up by hitting from downtown. A couple more baskets from Mudronja and then a triple to Kay had Australia in command up 21-11 leading to a Chinese Taipei timeout.
It didn’t help much with the Boomers up 28-11 by quarter-time but Chinese Taipei was able to put five points together early in the second term to get back within 14.
Australia began to pull away once more, though, beginning with a three-pointer from Sean MacDonald and then statement dunk from Akoldah Gak.
By half-time the Boomers were cruising up 48-22, but they didn’t have things all their own way in the third quarter.
Chinese Taipei changed up their defence and got some reward, able to turn that into some transition points and as a result they put up 30 points and held the Boomers to 22 to be within 18 at three quarter-time.
The Boomers wouldn’t have been happy with that third quarter and they took it out on Chinese Taipei in the fourth, piling on 28 points including a David Okwera triple on the buzzer to come away with the commanding 98-61 victory.
The Boomers are next up in action in Okinawa on Sunday against host nation Japan at 8.30pm AEDT and then finally against Chinese Taipei again on Monday at 5.30pm.
FIBA WORLD CUP ASIAN QUALIFIERS
AUSTRALIAN BOOMERS 98 (Kay 14, Mudronja 13, Naar 12)
CHINESE TAIPEI 61 (Artino 14, Lin 12, Chou 11)