With the Olympic Games scheduled in the not too distant future, the full preparation period for National teams is now looming large.
In the latest of these games, Australia’s Boomers have been soundly beaten by the NZ Tall Blacks. It was actually a qualifying game for the FIBA Asia Cup of 2021.
Read about it here…
NZ Stars Turn Missing Finals Pain into Win Over Boomers
Motivated by Brisbane Bullets and New Zealand Breakers players who just missed NBL Finals spots and then by two guards gearing up for the post-season, the Tall Blacks delivered an impressive showing to beat the Australian Boomers 108-98 on Thursday.
The game was the first match in the qualifying stages for the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup and the Tall Blacks made a winning start to Group C competition in an impressive display after the Boomers started on fire hitting the game’s first nine points at Brisbane’s Nissan Arena.
New Zealand overcame the slow start to turn on the impressive performance in Pero Cameron’s first game in charge as coach. It was the Tall Blacks’ first win over the Boomers since 2009 breaking a run of nine straight defeats, and doubling as their third ever victory on Australian soil.
It’s a very much a youthful Boomers team that was under the coach of Will Weaver for the first time but they still kept fighting right to the end only to be knocked back by New Zealand.
Less than a week after being part of Brisbane’s massive 36-point win on the same court against the Cairns Taipans that gave the Bullets a finals sniff in the NBL, Reuben Te Rangi made up for a frustrating campaign at club land with a brilliant performance for the Tall Blacks.
Even though that huge win wasn’t quite enough for a finals spot for the Bullets, Te Rangi put that behind him and delivered 21 points, six rebounds and five assists.
Having been the NBL’s Most Improved Player and Best Sixth Man 12 months ago, it was a 2019/20 campaign to forget for Te Rangi, but he didn’t let that bother him on Thursday night going on to shoot 8/14 from the field and 4/7 from deep in 31 minutes.
Another player who would have been frustrated to not be preparing for an NBL finals campaign right now was Rob Loe. The Breakers finished the season on fire but narrowly missed the post-season.
But Loe finished the season in career-best form and carried that into the Asian Cup qualifier with 19 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two steals for his country including a late dagger three to seal the deal.
Then there was Loe’s Breakers teammate Jordan Ngatai who also shook off the disappointment of missing NBL finals to produce 19 points including three triples.
Shea Ili (21 points, six rebounds, five assists) and Jarrod Kenny (10 points, two assists) are two players with NBL finals to look forward to at Melbourne and Cairns respectively, and both shared the point guard duties impressively for New Zealand.
Dion Prewster was impressive as well with 10 points and four rebounds.
Tall Blacks coach Pero Cameron was proud of the efforts of his team and the way the game was played in his first time officially in charge of New Zealand.
“Firstly there’s nothing like being in the hot seat and having these last three days, and some of the things our players have dealt with have been phenomenal. I just have to congratulate and acknowledge their commitment and support to the Tall Blacks singlet,” Cameron said.
“I’m just so happy to have this job and I think for anyone to coach their own country, it’s an amazing feeling. As far as this game goes, for what it was it was good to see all the players out there just giving their all.
“I felt the energy levels were high and that type of basketball is entertaining. I don’t mind if it’s not entertaining as long as I win, but I thought both sides went at it hammer and tongs, and my boys played really well.
There were a host of Boomers debutants and Angus Glover (eight points, five rebounds), Sunday Dech (eight points), Sam Froling, Kyle Adnam (12 points) and Dane Pineau (two points) all had their moments in their first appearances in the senior national team.
Illawarra Hawks 283-game veteran Todd Blanchfield top-scored for the Boomers with 17 points and six rebounds with Nathan Sobey adding 13 points, four boards three assists and three steals, Matt Hodgson 11 points and nine rebounds, and Jason Cadee 11 points, eight boards and five assists.
First-time Boomers coach Will Weaver ultimately just felt the Tall Blacks shooting the ball better and Australia missing 13 free-throws were significant factors in the result.
“We shot it decent from three but the free-throw line was probably the space you’d say we would regret some of those opportunities,” Weaver said.
“But that also comes down to some of the fatigue with these guys coming off the season and it was a physical game. It was fast and both teams were running after makes, but 50 per cent from the free-throw line rarely gets it done in a close game.”
But moving forward, Weaver is excited to be blooding so many fresh faces into the Boomers setup.
“We are trying to sew the seeds that will be reaped down the line. This is a four-year cycle that we’re preparing to endeavour to perform well at the end of,” Weaver said.
“A big part in that is investing in the younger players and even though we only had two practices, those guys have gotten a lot better and they will be better still against Hong Kong and along down the line. It just develops the base of talent we have to select from in these situations.”
Both teams back up to play another game on Sunday with the Tall Blacks away to Tai Wesley and Guam while the Boomers host Hong Kong back at Nissan Arena.
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