Basketball

Understrength Australian Boomers defeat Nigeria in Olympic warm up

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 the D’Tigers, 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.

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What a win! The Boomers’ show complete domination over Nigeria, claiming a 39-point [email protected] on 🔥 hitting 7x3PT at 100% accuracy!

🇦🇺: 108
🇳🇬: 69#WeAreBasketballpic.twitter.com/mm1momq3gv

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.

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.”

The Boomers had a 49-29 lead at the break. And it only got worse after halftime, 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.

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).

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.

FIVE THINGS WE LEARNED

The Boomers are building impressive momentum for the Tokyo Olympics after recording a third straight exhibition win, this time a blowout 108-69 victory over Nigeria, Australia’s opening group stage opponent.

1. GIDDEY IS READY NOW

Josh Giddey isn’t in Australia’s final 12-man squad for Tokyo, but the NBA-draft bound guard proved he is ready to star on the international stage now.

It poses the question: should coach Goorjian take Giddey to the Olympics over a player like Nathan Sobey given his ability to create at point guard?

The 19-year looked slick bringing the ball up with his pinpoint passing and potent premiter shooting, including one transition three that prompted someone in the crowd at Las Vegas to declare: “That is a lottery pick right there.”

Giddey won’t be travelling to Tokyo, but the argument could be made to reverse that decision for the betterment of the Boomers’ medal chances.

The Melbourne-born guard, though, is just appreciative to rub shoulders with Australia’s best in preparation for the NBA Draft on July 29.

“It is a lot of fun being around the guys we’ve got and being able to compete against the competition we do every practice,” the projected top-10 draft pick said.

“I’m getting better from it whether I go to Tokyo or not, which I’m not.

“It is just good being around the group, seeing how professional they are and getting an early feel for this Boomers culture.

“I’ll be cheering them on from home hoping they get that gold medal.”

2. GOORJIAN’S MIND GAMES

Boomers coach Brian Goorjian is the master at keeping his cards close to his chest, which came to the fore in Australia’s exhibition match against Nigeria.

With the Australians coming off a big win over Team USA on the second day of a back-to-back, Goorjian’s plan was to always rest senior stars Patty Mills, Joe Ingles, Aron Baynes and Dellavedova Matthew.

The master mentor wanted to give the Boomers’ younger players a chance to shine, and shine they did.

The likes of Nathan Sobey, Dante Exum, Josh Green, Xavier Cooks and NBA-draft bound sensation Josh Giddey all excelled.

Goorjian, as Boomers legend Andrew Bogut said after the Australians defeated Team USA, doesn’t want to give away all of Australia’s secrets because it opens the door for rival teams to scout his squad.

The Australians are also play Nigeria in their opening Olympic Group game on July 25, so it’s smart to keep the opposition guessing.

That said, Nigeria also mixed up its line-up and will be significantly better come tip-off time in Tokyo.

3. NBL STARS SHOW NBA POTENTIAL

With senior stars like Mills, Baynes and Ingles missing, the Boomers needed the bench to excel in their absence, which they did in spades.

Chris Goulding continued his sharpshooting ways with a spectacular display; Nick Kay was at his hardworking best while centre Duop Reath impressed again.

The former Melbourne United big man Jock Landale, who usually starts, also relished the opportunity to take on a senior role.

Landale looked locked in and comfortable from the onset in a performance that will only enhance his NBA aspirations.

4. SOBEY STEPS UP

This game was exactly what Boomers guard Nathan Sobey needed.

Sobey had looked tentative in the limited minutes he’d previously played, especially bringing the ball up, but he produced his strongest performance in Australian colours against Nigeria.

The Brisbane Bullets guard found his shooting stroke in an effort that will do wonders for his confidence.

The Boomers and Opals are back on the court and there’s plenty of hoops happening to get excited about – join The Basketball Show for a jam-packed season finale….

The Boomers and Opals are back on the court and there’s plenty of hoops happening to get excited about – join The Basketball Show for a jam-packed season finale.

5. DEFENCE IS AUSTRALIA’S IDENTITY

Brian Goorjian’s famed defensive focus has its fingerprints all over this Boomers team from the top to the bottom.

The Australians are scrambling on every possession with energy and effort – a trait that Goorjian coached teams have displayed for decades.

If the Boomers are to win a maiden Olympic medal in Tokyo, the team’s dogged defence will play a major role.

Originally published asBoomers B-team dominates giant-killers

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