The Australian Boomers remain unbeaten in their FIBA World Cup qualifying group after thoroughly outclassing Japan in a comprehensive 98-52 victory in Melbourne on Friday night.
The Boomers made light work of their Japanese opponents at John Cain Arena to improve their record to 5-0 in Group B play and earn the chance to secure top spot with a victory over China on Sunday.
Australia closed the first period with a comfortable 22-13 advantage then exerted their dominance by restricting the visitors to just four points in the second quarter to take an emphatic 47-17 lead at halftime.
The Boomers continued to control the game at both ends of the floor after halftime, ensuring there would be no repeat of the previous night’s second-half lapse against China as they closed out an impressive 46-point win.
Coach Brian Goorjian was pleased with the way the Boomers built on the momentum gained from the result against China, playing team-first basketball while integrating six new squad members into the program.
“The thing about this group is that they share the ball, there’s no hogs out there,” Goorjian said after his side amassed 25 assists to Japan’s eight.
“If the guy is open for the next one, they throw it and that’s just instinctive within the group. I think this group’s playing a pretty good brand of basketball and they’re doing the things you do that makes it attractive to the eye.
“They’re covering each other’s backs defensively and they’re sharing the ball on offence. They’re throwing that extra pass and that’s nice.”
The lopsided contest allowed Goorjian to hand all 12 squad members at least 10 minutes of court time with Sam McDaniel and William McDowell-White each tallying 14 points apiece, with Sam Froling adding 12 points, six rebounds and two blocked shots.
After struggling to make an impact against Chinese big man Zhou Qi, seven-foot former NBA centre Thon Maker retained his starting spot for the Boomers and inspired a run of 12 unanswered points in the first quarter by blocking two shots on one Japanese possession before sinking a wide-open three-pointer.
The home side quickly built on their nine-point edge with a 9-0 start to the second quarter before Japan’s Luke Evans ended his team’s scoring drought after five scoreless minutes.
But with Froling scoring with ease around the basket, the Boomers reeled off the final14 points of the half to storm ahead by 30 at the main break.
Tasmania JackJumpers teammates Jack McVeigh and Clint Steindl both exited the game during the third quarter with shoulder issues but the home side still managed to outscore Japan 21-10 for the term before going on to lead by as many as 54 points in the final stages.