Boomers want revenge tonight after shock loss to Canada
AFTER a surprising blowout loss to Canada on Friday night, the Australian Boomers have the chance to rebound when they face the same opponent on Saturday night.
With more talent and a home crowd behind them, team was expected to walk away from Perth's RAC Arena with the victory in their first FIBA World Cup warm-up game but were outplayed by a severely undermanned Canadian side.
The Boomers' head coach pointed to the fact that his team was still in the process of learning, but that didn't take away from the fact that Nick Nurse was able to guide his severely undermanned Canadian team to a convincing win.
Australia entered the game with a wave of high expectations but Nurse's team seemed to have more chemistry, even more than a Boomers team famed for its togetherness, and walked out of Perth's RAC Arena with the 90-70 victory.
"We played pretty good," Nurse said after his team's win.
"It looked to me like they've been working really hard. I thought they had some opportunities and missed a bunch of easy shots, which I expect them to do too many nights.
"We've been working hard, too, but we had a few more go in, and it's nice too see our guys play pretty good team basketball, since we haven't been together very long."
Kevin Pangos led the visitors with 18 points, including a few crucial buckets in the fourth quarter, while Andrew Nembhard came off the bench for 12 points, 10 rebounds, and four assists for a Canadian team that should feel good about defeating one of their Group H opponents.
"We got along pretty well out there," Pangos said.
"A group like this, when we're playing hard like that, it makes up for a lot of mistakes. That's what coach has been preaching a lot: just play hard and aggressive, play with confidence. I think we did a good job of that tonight, and there's definitely still room for growth, which is a positive, for sure."
Patty Mills had a game-high 20 points for the Boomers, but things just weren't clicking for Lemanis's team. Jock Landale earned the start and finished with 18 points of his own, while Andrew Bogut impressed with 10 points and 13 rebounds.
While Australia was the team with more individual talent, it was the Canadians who came out with the hot hand.
"They came out and played well," Matthew Dellavedova said after the Boomers' loss.
"I think we were on the back foot for a bit of the first part, and we turned it up a little bit, but they were in a good rhythm."
Kyle Wiltjer opened the scoring with a mid-range jumper, before hitting a three-pointer to extend Canada's early lead. The Boomers went to their pick-and-roll action a lot, with multiple ball handlers in different sequences, but Canada's defence - while perhaps a step slow - was still active and stifling.
Pangos's three-pointer was quickly followed by a mid-range jumper from Phil Scrubb, with Canada taking a 15-6 lead, forcing a Lemanis timeout.
Australia came out of the timeout with an increased sense of urgency, as Landale began to make his presence known inside the paint. Back-to-back threes from Mills cut Australia's deficit to just one possession, but an Owen Klassen hoop-and-harm gave Canada the 25-20 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Thomas Scrubb opened the second period with a three, in what continued to be the trend in the first half. Nembhard then came into the game and ran the show, doing an impressive job creating for himself and others off the pick-and-roll; the 20-year-old's midrange jumpshot giving Canada the 36-27 lead.
Pangos showed how comfortable he is playing the FIBA game, hitting a three-pointer to extend his team's lead, but Landale found his touch inside to keep the Boomers in it, before a Mills lay-up cut Australia's deficit to 46-36 entering the main break.
Canada gave the Boomers a real scare when back-to-back buckets - capped off by another Wiltjer three - extending their lead to 51-36, but Australia upped the physicality, clawing their way back into single digits. A Joe Ingles and-one opportunity was tipped in by Bogut, cutting the Boomers' deficit to just 57-52 midway through the third period.
A pair of buckets from Chris Goulding - a lay-up, followed by a three-pointer from the wing - tied the game at 57-57, but Canada wasn't phased. Klassen responded with back-to-back layups of his own, before Kaza Kajami-Keane scored five straight points to give his team the 67-60 advantage heading into the final quarter.
As much as Australia tried to cut into the lead, Canada wouldn't let up, keeping their advantage away from the Boomers' reach.
A Landale lay-up cut the Boomers' deficit to 73-66 during the midway point of the final period, with Lemanis remaining with the majority of his starters to end the game, but Pangos took over to end the outing, stepping up in the clutch before a Birch dunk effectively put a button on it.
The Boomers will still enter the World Cup - which begins in China on August 31 - as one of the favourites to walk away with a medal, but Lemanis knows his team still has a ways to go before they're meshing like the elite team they are.
"(We need to be) getting back into the rhythm of the game, and some of that's evident," Australia's head coach said.
"I mean, we had nine turnovers in the first half, we opened the third quarter with back-to-back turnovers after some great defensive possessions, where we could've built a little bit of momentum. And, they were all decent plays. At the rim, half open, fumble it, turn it over... Signs of getting back into game rhythm, for sure."
Landale earned the start for the Boomers at the four-spot, playing alongside Bogut in the frontcourt, and he made a significant impact in in his first ever game on this iteration of the team.
The Saint Mary's product pointed to the defensive end, and the lack of adjustments, as one of the reasons for the Boomers' downfall on Friday.
"On the defensive end, we gave easy shots. I think they were kinda living and dying by midrange jumpers, but they were hitting, so we've gotta try to do something else to get them out of there, maybe not give up as many threes," Landale said.
"We're figuring each other out as we go, and I think it's something we will do over the next couple weeks. I think we'll be good."
Lemanis said that Aron Baynes would play in Saturday's game after being rested on Friday night, while Bogut was likely to sit out.
As for Canada, they're relishing in a win that not many saw coming, and you can point to how well the team has meshed over its time together.
"I think, in the locker room, we just have confidence in ourselves, and that's the most important thing," Pangos said.
The two teams will tip off at 7.30pm (AEST) on Saturday, with the Boomers still having two games against the USA in Melbourne left on their warm-up schedule.
The World Cup begins in China on August 31, with Australia set to open the tournament with a match-up against Canada on September 1.