Just a day after dealing with Team USA in convincing fashion, an understrength Australian team made easy work of a hyped Nigeria outfit in a thumping 108-69 win.
The veteran savvy of Patty Mills, Joe Ingles, Matthew Dellavedova and Aron Baynes was replaced by a young, athletic starting five as the Boomers chose to sit their stars, keeping their cards close to their chest against Nigeria, who will be in their group at the Tokyo Olympics.
Nigeria, filled with NBA talent, had rattled off impressive wins against the United States and Argentina, leaning on their athleticism and shooting, but were outplayed on Wednesday by an Australian group, with an average age of 25, looking to give head coach Brian Goorjian something to think about.
Jock Landale was the only starter who remained as Nathan Sobey, Dante Exum, Matisse Thybulle and Nick Kay earned spots in the Boomers’ opening five.
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We also got the first glimpse of NBL Rookie of the Year and projected NBA Draft lottery pick Josh Giddey, who won’t be in Tokyo, but will be a big part of the Australian set-up moving forward. On the way to 14 points, four rebounds and three assists, Giddey showed off his game management, range, and defensive capacity against a tough, physical Nigeria team.
Nigeria had proved too much for Team USA and Argentina, running and gunning, and importantly winning the battle on the boards. Mike Brown’s team outrebounded the United States by 12 and the Argentinians by 18. Against Australia, they were bested on the glass, and every other facet of the game.
“For us tonight, we thought we were going to be able walk in here and take it to these guys,” Brown said after one quarter against the weakened Boomers. “But these guys can play.”
Basketball: Patty Mills carried the Boomers to a shock victory over Team USA, going for an equal game-high 22-points as the Aussies won 91-83….
Basketball: Patty Mills carried the Boomers to a shock victory over Team USA, going for an equal game-high 22-points as the Aussies won 91-83.
The Boomers had a 49-29 lead at the break. And it only got worse after half-time, with any chance of a Nigerian second half comeback immediately put to bed as Landale and Exum sunk back-to-back threes to extend Australia’s lead to 26 points.
At times it felt like Australia, who are undefeated in Las Vegas as they prepare for the Olympics, couldn’t miss as they sunk 18 threes on just 29 attempts, while nullifying the Nigerians on the other end.
Chris Goulding, 32, who was the oldest Boomer on the court, topscored with 21 points and was a perfect 7-of-7 from deep, while four other Australians had multiple makes from behind the three-point line.
“We were locked in defensively from the jump,” Goulding said post-game. “We’d seen how they played their last two games; they’re a potent offensive team, a lot of athleticism, they can really shoot the ball. So, we had to be keyed in on that.
“On the other end, move the ball, play to our strengths. Ball movement, man movement and we were able to run up a pretty hefty international score. We’re pretty happy with that.”
Nigeria had 90 points against the United States. They scored 94 against Argentina. The Australians, who tallied 10 steals and four blocks, held them to just 69 in a display that sent a statement to its rivals.
If we know what the past and current Boomers look like, this was a little peak at what they might become; long, multidimensional athletes — like Landale, Thybulle, Green, Exum and Giddey — giving Australia a new edge against Nigeria, who had looked unstoppable before they ran into the Goorjian’s team.
The Boomers will play their final exhibition game in Las Vegas in a rematch against Team USA on Saturday (AEST).
Originally published as‘These guys can play’: Boomers sit biggest stars … still thrash hyped giant-killers in Olympics statement
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