The cards are stacking up just right for the Boomers leading into the quarterfinals after an easy 93-68 win over China, a game where they were able to rest key players and give some of the team’s NBL representatives a chance to make an impact off the bench.
Australia started out slowly as if hung over from their gallant effort against the USA on Thursday morning, before finding their feet and pushing away from the Chinese, coming away with a 25 point win even with Andrew Bogut watching the game from the bench.
In Bogut’s absence, the Boomers reserves rose to the task and scored 54 of the teams 93 points. Cam Bairstow (17 points, 9 rebounds) and Brock Motum (15 points) made the most of their increased minutes, leading the team in scoring.
Australia’s bench had been cited as a weakness by many, but they’ve proven themselves serviceable during the tournament. Australia’s bench also outscored the USA bench 23-21, in yet another promising sign for the Boomers.
The Boomers were obviously working on areas of concern highlighted against Team USA during the China game, and the statistics bear out the fruits of that labour. Australia dominated the much taller Chinese inside with a 35-21 win on rebounds, 50-21 points in the paint and scoring 14-second chance points.
Andrej Lemanis tinkered with his roster, playing some ‘small ball’ with the Chinese during the third quarter. Matthew Dellavedova (6 points, 8 assists), Kevin Lisch (12 points, 6 assists), Ryan Broekhoff (12 points) combined with Motum and Bairstow for a line-up which had no player taller than 6’9″.
Lemanis will have a chance to do this once more against Venezuela on Monday morning, but is likely to field his starting 5 for a longer stretch to keep them in good form leading into the quarterfinals on Thursday morning.
Luckily for Australia, and for the rest of Group A, they get an extra day’s rest before the quarter’s, with Group A’s play ending on Monday and Group B’s on Tuesday. However, the Boomers also have the luxury of ending their campaign with two easy wins allowing them to rest and rotate players.
The top four qualifiers for Group B are still undecided, so no one in that group will have the same luxury. Australia is likely to enter the quarterfinals rejuvenated, fresh, and more focused than their opponent, which will be instrumental if facing an ageing power such as Spain or Argentina.
Australia, who are likely to consolidate second place in their group, will face the third placed team in Group B.
Their next game is against Venezuela at 8 am AEST Monday morning.