Tall Blacks upset rookie Boomers
NEW Zealand tasted rare success over the Australian Boomers with a drought-breaking 108-98 victory in the FIBA Asia Cup qualifier at Brisbane's Nissan Arena on Thursday night.
With Australia's NBA stars on duty with their clubs in the US and players from the finals-bound NBL sides also unavailable for selection, the world no.3 ranked Boomers fielded one of their greenest squads in recent memory with six debutants.
And the more experienced Tall Blacks took full advantage, grabbing their first win over Australia since the 2009 Oceania Championships when the likes of Joe Ingles, Brad Newley and Nate Jawai were in the green-and-gold.
Watch LIVE coverage of the Boomers in the 2021 Asia Cup FIBA Qualifiers with KAYO. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >
New Zealand head coach Pero Cameron was a Tall Blacks player when they bundled the Boomers out of World Cup qualifying in 2002 and in his first game in charge of the world no.24 squad, he helped cause another upset in front of 3504 spectators.
The Boomers get the chance to atone when they play Hong Kong at Nissan Arena on Sunday. Last night's (THURS) result is unlikely to cost them a spot at the 2021 Asian Cup tournament with the top two teams from the group containing the Boomers, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Guam going through.
Reuben Te Rangi (21 points, six rebounds, five assists) and Shae Ili (21 points, six rebounds, five assists) were the standouts for the Tall Blacks along with Rob Loe (19 points, nine rebounds) as they stood firm in the final quarter when the fast-finishing Boomers closed to within five points in the dying minutes.
Todd Blanchfield top-scored for the Boomers with 17 points while Nathan Sobey and Cam Gliddon had 13 apiece for Australia.
The Tall Blacks took control after the first break, outscoring the Boomers 25-15 in the second quarter with Te Rangi pouring in 10 points for the term.
New Zealand held a 52-46 cushion at halftime and extended their advantage to 13 points early in the third term before the Boomers ground their way back to a nine-point deficit by the last change.
After the Tall Black performed a pre-match Haka, the Boomers scored the first nine points of the match.
New Zealand dragged themselves back into the match through the fast-breaking Ili as the Boomers eventually took a slender 31-27 buffer into quarter-time with all 10 Australian players used managing to score.
Cameron said his players did the Tall Blacks singlet proud.
"It's a great feeling…I felt like the energy level was high. Both sides went at it hammer and tong,'' he said.
"It's still about country to country. You could see the pride.''
Loe said it took time for New Zealand to adjust to Cameron's fast-paced offence in the first quarter but hit their straps soon after.
"We just clicked. It was a phenomenal second quarter. It's obviously pretty cool (to beat Australia),'' he said.
"We played with heart today. We can be proud of ourselves.''
Boomers head coach Will Weaver said the more battle-hardened New Zealand deserved full credit for the victory.
"It was always going to be a learning curve for our group to be able to cope with a team of that experience,'' Weaver said.
"The togetherness they had obviously with the number of participants they had in last year's World Cup…their fingerprints were all over that period of time (second quarter) and the big moments throughout the game.''
NEW ZEALAND 108 (S Ili 21 R Te Rangi 21 R Loe 19) AUSTRALIA 98 (T Blanchfield 15 C Gliddon 13 J Cadee 13) at Nissan Arena.