The World of Basketball is Changing – or is it? – USA Out of World Cup

For the first time since 2006, the USA won’t win Gold. And for the first time ever Australia’s Boomers have made it to through to the semi finals.

Perhaps what this shows is two things. First the NBA fiercely protects its players. Of the 35 players selected last year for the Team America squad only 4 ended up playing.

The second factor is that the sport is becoming truly global. Based on their talent, it could well be the Boomers will be a force to be reckoned with. Yes we can dream. The Boomers meet its nemesis Spain. Spain denied the Boomers a Bronze Medal in Rio De Janero at the last Olympics. Game Time 6pm Friday 13th.

Read about it all here…

USA knocked out of FIBA basketball World Cup, Australia advances to semi-finals for first time

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The Boomers have flown into the semi-finals of the FIBA basketball World Cup, but the favourites and reigning champion US team are out after suffering a shock defeat to France.

French star Evan Fournier scored 22 points and Rudy Gobert had 21 points with 16 rebounds as France beat the US 89-79, rallying from a seven-point, fourth-quarter deficit to pull off the upset.

For the first time since 2006, the US sent NBA players to a major international tournament and won’t win gold.

This is the first time the US will not win a medal at the World Cup since being stunned on home soil in 2002.

“[We’ve] just got to take it like a man at this point,” US guard Kemba Walker said.

“We lost. There’s nothing we can do. We competed. We’ve been competing since day one that we got to training camp. But we gave it everything we’ve got.

“I know we’re Team USA and things of that nature and they’ve been winning for a lot of years, but you know, we didn’t get a chance to pull it off.”

The US team was heavily undermanned heading into the tournament, with CJ McCollum — a player who was initially selected but later withdrew from the squad — saying that a fear of failure could have been to blame.

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‘What did you expect?’

Many pundits in the US were writing Team USA off before they even arrived in China.

Suffering a first-ever defeat to the Boomers in Melbourne before the World Cup just added fuel to the fire as journalists said the early exit came as no surprise.

“What’d you expect? I mean you rolled out your C team,” Former NBA star Raja Bell said.

“I’m not surprised that they ended up getting beat by someone because while they’re good players, they’re not the best that we have to offer.”

The US team had several high-profile players pull out of the squad in the early stages of training, with the AP reporting that of the 35 players originally picked last year, just four made it to China.

That led some US-based journalists to question the selection process.

“[It] doesn’t matter who is on the team, and I couldn’t be more proud of these 12 guys who sacrificed their summer to come here, having never played with each other before,” US coach Gregg Popovich said.

“They put themselves in the arena and competed, and they deserve credit for that, just like France deserves credit for winning. It’s not about, ‘Well, the United States didn’t have their other guys’.

“There’s no such thing as other guys. These are the guys that were here, and they did a great job, and I’m very proud of them.”

The US had won 58 consecutive tournament games in FIBA and Olympic competition, starting with the bronze-medal game at the 2006 World Championships and continuing through every FIBA Americas, World Cup and Olympics event since.

It was bidding to become the first nation to win three consecutive World Cups, after winning three straight Olympic golds in that span but will now focus on the Olympics in Japan next year.

“Any loss hurts,” Popovich said.

“And in this situation, it hurts more.

“But life goes on. This is very important and we would have loved to have won … but we’re all grown, we all have families and lives and life goes on.”

Boomers qualify for World Cup semis

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The Aussie Boomers have qualified for the Basketball World Cup semi-finals for the first time, after defeating Czech Republic 82-70 in China.

The Boomers, who had never gone beyond the quarter-finals in 11 previous appearances, defeated the tournament debutants on Wednesday night, and will meet Spain on Friday.

It was Spain who broke Australian hearts at the last Olympics by denying the Boomers a first ever medal in global competition by prevailing in the bronze medal match.

Meanwhile, France has upset the United States after winning 89-79 and will also advance to the semi-finals where they will take on Argentina.

This was Australia’s sixth straight win in China, and in doing so, they avoided becoming the latest surprise casualty at this unpredictable World Cup.

“They caused us to be a little anxious early,” Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis said.

“It took a while to find our rhythm offensively but once we did I thought we did a nice job.”

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San Antonio Spurs’ Patty Mills was again the standout, leading the scoring with 24 points.

The 31-year-old guard also had six assists and four rebounds.

Argentina stunned favourites Serbia on Tuesday while reigning two-time champions the United States were dumped out by France on Wednesday.

Australia were heavy favourites in Shanghai against the Czechs, who bravely hung on until midway through the third quarter, when the Boomers cranked up the pressure.

Australia had survived the World Cup “Group of Death” also including Canada, Senegal and Lithuania, before beating the Dominican Republic and then fellow semi-finalists France in a thriller.

Veteran Australian Andrew Bogut was again loudly booed throughout by fans in Shanghai upset with a tweet he wrote in July about Chinese swimming star Sun Yang.

He goaded the crowd afterwards with a dance as he came off the court.

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Source: abc.net.au

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The Young Boomers – Australia’s latest crop.

Every year more young Australians are both nominated for the NBA draft and being accepted by a wide range of teams within the conference.

The standard of Australian Basketball is now at an all time high with our National team, the Boomers, considered a top hope in this year’s FIBA Basketball World Cup to be staged in China this September. This is the Men’s Championship. The Women’s Competition is held non-sequentially with the next World Cup event scheduled for 2022 in Bulgaria.

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The standard of Australian Basketball owes much to the improvement of Court facilities nationally. The proliferation of proper Sprung Timber Sports Flooring has occurred at a rapid rate since 2007, with many schools now boasting multipurpose Timber Sports Flooring courts. As well the federal and State Governments have actively funded State regional and suburban stadiums and Court complexes.

For the last 10-12 years, young students and community competitions have enjoyed the benefits of fully professional FIBA approved playing surfaces. No longer is there a transition period from hard surfaces to timber sports flooring and the consequent period of adjustment.

This season’s crop of young Boomers is living testimony to these advances.

Read about it here…

FIBA World Cup 2019: Boomers of the future – Who will lead the next generation of Aussies?

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With the Boomers assembling in Melbourne for their pre-World Cup selection camp, the squad is infused with a mixture of young and old.

Veterans Patty Mills, Andrew Bogut, Matthew Dellavedova, Joe Ingles, and Aron Baynes will lead the way once again in China at the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup, with Mills acknowledging the role of the senior players in fostering a winning environment for the program.

“Our leadership group has a responsibility to pass on what it means to be a Boomer and play for your country and make sure this program is at its peak knowing the type of talent coming through,” Mills said.

“We understand where we want this program to go and to achieve the number one goal of winning a medal and a gold medal as well.”

While the core group still has plenty of productive years ahead, with one eye on the future, we look at the Aussies who will carry the torch down the track as they usher in the next generation of Boomers.

Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers – age 23)

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While Simmons won’t be in China for the World Cup, the All-Star point guard has re-affirmed his commitment to pulling on the green and gold in Tokyo next year as Australia chases its first Olympic medal for the men’s team.

Simmons gives the Boomers a commanding presence at the point guard position, ensuring a mismatch every time he steps on the floor, but given Australia’s glut of guards, the 6-foot-10 powerhouse can also be deployed as a power forward with his size and ability to finish at the rim.

Jonah Bolden (Philadelphia 76ers – age 23)

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Bolden is set to make his Boomers debut this year and figures as a key contributor at the World Cup.

At 6-foot-10, with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, Bolden gives the Boomers a key frontcourt piece for right now and in the future, with the flexibility to play as an international four or five.

Alongside Bogut and Baynes in the paint, Bolden’s athleticism and length provides the Boomers with a versatile floor-spacing big for coach Andrej Lemanis to switch things up and expect to see him get plenty of burn in China.

“It would mean the world to the country, and to the players themselves,” Bolden told Basketball Australia of winning a medal. “So for me, that’s obviously the goal… It’s definitely a challenge but I’m looking forward to it and I’m sure the other guys are looking forward to it as well.

“It’s always been a dream to play for the national team growing up. Being born and raised in Australia, for me it’s exciting times.”

Jock Landale (Zalgiris Kaunas, Lithuania – age 23)

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Landale is on the cusp of making the Boomers squad for China after an impressive Summer League campaign for the Milwaukee Bucks, averaging 18.3 points and 7.0 rebounds per game on 55 percent shooting from the field.

The 23-year-old continues to expand his game and has developed a reliable three-point shot to compliment his already polished low-post game.

Deng Adel (Brooklyn Nets – age 22)

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Perhaps Australia’s greatest area of need down the track is depth on the wing, with Ingles and Ryan Broekhoff, who will miss the World Cup, currently the Boomers best options on the perimeter.

While Adel doesn’t have the same threat from beyond the arc as Ingles and Broekhoff, the 22-year-old continues to improve as a shooter. Widely expected to make the roster for China, Adel’s high motor and athleticism will give the Boomers another transition threat at the World Cup and beyond.

Dante Exum (Utah Jazz – age 24)

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Exum won’t be in China for the World Cup as he continues his recovery from a knee injury, however he looks to be a certain stalwart for the Boomers down the track.

Mills and Dellavedova have had a monopoly on Australia’s point guard duties in recent years, but if the Utah Jazz point guard can stay healthy next season, he will be primed to play a big role at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Thon Maker (Detroit Pistons – age 22)

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Maker made his Boomers debut last year against the Phillippines, but will miss the upcoming World Cup to focus on his development with the Detroit Pistons.

While Bolden and Landale are currently with the squad in camp, Maker has the highest ceiling of new wave of big men and with his size and shot-blocking ability, he projects to have a bright future in international basketball and will push for selection at next year’s Olympics.

Josh Green (Arizona – age 18)

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Green is the youngest of the group and is yet to even play a game in the NCAA, but all indicators point to him being a high draft pick in 2020. Will that be too soon to see him in Tokyo? Most likely, but Green is certainly one to watch for the future.

The springy 18-year-old looks every bit the modern NBA combo guard at 6-foot-6 and alongside Exum and Simmons could form a dynamic playmaking trio for the Boomers.

Source: sportingnews.com

The future looks very rosy. And to ensure premium court surfaces for Timber Sports Flooring, always call on the leading experts in the construction, maintenance and professional regular cleaning of all Timber Sports Floors in Victoria, Nellakir Pty Ltd. Call now on 03 9467 6126 or leave your details here for a prompt reply. Book a no-obligation free consultation to ensure your facility is maintained to the highest standard.

Nellakir – Timber Sports Flooring for Champions.

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Nellakir helps young athletes reach their goals by providing the highest quality Sprung Timber Sports Floor playing surfaces.

Ben Simmons in Melbourne

Did you miss it? Ben Simmons conducted his third annual Basketball Camp Melbourne – 2019 on July 28th out at Mullum Mullum Stadium in Donvale. Here’s a boy returning to his roots – he went to Secondary College at nearby Whitefriars College.

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With 4.3 million Instagram followers, it’s obvious this guy is numero uno with the fans right now. For their entertainment he toured the Melbourne Zoo, the Street Art Alleyways (Hey! Let’s call it what it is – Graffiti – but oh so high quality. Real art. Remember Banksy has done Melbourne). Photo ops with kiddies and koalas, Ben and a dingo – it’s all very human and very cool.

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Then the press has jumped on him for opting out of the FIBA World Cup scheduled for China in a months time. But perhaps it’s timely to consider what Boomers Coach Andrej Lemanis has to say on the matter.

Boomers hit back at Simmons backlash ‘doing a disservice’ to World Cup team

Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis says the noise around the withdrawal of Ben Simmons for the World Cup warm-up games is “doing a disservice” to the same squad that captivated the country at the 2016 Olympics.

The Boomers, powered by Patty Mills and Andrew Bogut, were denied bronze in Brazil in an agonising one-point loss to Spain that is still raw with the players.

The addition of NBA All-Star Ben Simmons was touted as the missing piece as Australia hunt a maiden international medal at the World Cup in China from September 1.

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The Philadelphia 76ers talent was forced to twice retreat from his initial Boomers commitment though, first pulling out of the World Cup and last week excusing himself from Australia’s four lead-up games against the USA and Canada in Melbourne and Perth.

That, along with multiple high-profile US withdrawals, earned the ire of some fans, who Lemanis said would soon be reminded of the Australian squad’s depth.

“It’s doing a disservice to the talent available to us,” Lemanis said of the grumbles.

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“We’ve got four NBA champions (Aron Baynes, Matthew Dellavedova, Bogut and Mills) plus Joe Ingles who starts on a great NBA team (Utah Jazz) and a core of the group that did well in Rio and captured the imagination of the Australian public,” he said.

“We’ve got a talented team that is perhaps being undersold by the tension put on Ben not playing.

“Hopefully we can digest and think ‘we’ve still got a good team and they share the ball, it’ll be fun to watch’ and that is what people enjoyed about Rio.”

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A 17-man squad will gather in Melbourne on Friday, with the final 12-man World Cup roster due to be announced next week.

Australia will face Canada, Senegal and Lithuania in their World Cup pool games, with the final in Beijing on September 15.

“To have players on hand with the talent required (to win the World Cup) is just awesome,” Lemanis said.

“You don’t need the stars and planets to align to have a chance of winning and that’s a good feeling.

“It’s not even a feeling of pressure or extra pressure; it’s your own self-motivation.”

Source: wwos.nine.com.au

For premium quality Timber Sports Flooring all year round championship quality surfaces, always rely on Victoria’s leading experts in Sports Flooring, Nellakir. From full construction and installation to regular professional cleaning, protect your valuable Sports Flooring. Call Nellakir on 03 9467 6126 or leave your details here for a prompt response.

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Nellakir helps young athletes reach their goals by providing the highest quality Sprung Timber Sports Floor playing surfaces.

Ben Simmons – A Vision of the Future.

It’s Friday night and the kids are loaded in the car and we are off to their junior Basketball competition at the local stadium. It’s a premium competition surface – timber sports flooring. Each week the boys and their sister seem to be getting better, more proficient.

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And then you remember what your youngest said to your mum (their grandma).

“Are you going to study and become a doctor? Maybe a Lawyer? Or perhaps an Architect?” she asked.

“No Grandma – I’m going to keep growing and I’m going to practice until I make the NBA draft when I leave school!” he answered enthusiastically.

“But Tyrone, you’ll need a good education to make a living” said my mum.

“Nah – I’ll be like Ben Simmons. He used to play footy but then he played Basketball for the Knox Raiders – just out there near Knox City Grandma. Yeah I want to do what he’s doing!”

“What’s that darling?” asked my mum.

“Playing the hoops and getting $46 million (A) a year! He’s going to make $242 million in five years Grandma!”

“Oh my goodness” says my mum.

But the kid has a point. So whatever it takes hey?

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Now Australian kids right across the country have an inspirational path to follow. With new schools (and older ones) all being included in the State Government scheme to provide superior facilities for all schools and communities, most kids these days get to play on a premium competition court – with sprung timber sports flooring of the highest standard. So the dream of many young men and women is no longer improbable.

Read about Ben Simmons contract here. Unfortunately we will miss his services during the World Cup in August/September but he has reiterated he will play for the Boomers at the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020.

Ben Simmons has agreed to a five-year, $US170 million ($A242 million) contract extension with the Philadelphia 76ers in the richest deal ever by an Australian athlete.

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The Athletic, citing Simmons’ agent Rich Paul, was the first to report on Monday (Tuesday AEST) that he had accepted the offer.

Ben Simmons has signed a $A242 million five-year contract extension with his NBA team, the Philadelphia 76ers.

The team and Paul have been working out details since July 2. The maximum extension was originally believed to be $US168.2 million, yet it’s actually higher than $US170 million due to the new salary cap projections.

The extension, which begins during the 2020-21 season, could pass $US200 million if Simmons makes the All-NBA team this season.

Simmons is a triple-double machine and one of the NBA’s young superstars, so extending his contract was an easy decision for the ownership group and front office, despite criticism from some over elements of his game, predominantly the lack of a reliable jumpshot.

The 22-year-old averaged 16.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 7.7 assists last season as the Sixers lost in the second round of the playoffs to eventual champions Toronto. He had 10 triple-doubles this past season and now has 22 for his career.

Ben Simmons has formally agreed to a record-breaking contract extension, according to his agent.

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He joins Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson as the only NBA players with at least 10 triple-double in each of their first two seasons.

Doubt still hangs over whether the Melbourne-born NBA All-Star will play for Australia later this year at the World Cup in China and in Melbourne and Perth exhibition games.

It was Paul who shocked Australian sports fans on the weekend when he told ESPN that Simmons was “doubtful” to play for Australia at the World Cup in August-September.

His absence would be a major blow to the Boomers’ hopes of claiming a medal in China in September and to huge crowds of Australian fans planning to watch him play exhibition games with the Boomers.

The Boomers will play a powerful US squad twice in front of more than a combined 100,000 fans at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne in August.

Simmons was also set to play for the Boomers twice in Perth against a strong Canadian squad before jetting out to China.

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The Boomers are yet to win a medal at a World Cup or Olympics, but with Simmons spearheading a team laden with Australian NBA players including Patty Mills, Andrew Bogut, Joe Ingles, Matthew Dellavedova, Aron Baynes and Jonah Bolden, the drought appeared set to be broken.

On June 23, 2016, Simmons became the first No. 1 pick taken by the Sixers since 1996, when they took Allen Iverson out of Georgetown.

Source: www.smh.com.au

Nellakir are Victoria and Tasmania’s leading experts in the Construction, Maintenance and Cleaning of all Timber Sports Flooring. Nellakir have exclusive access to the FIBA approved ASF/Horner Sports Flooring systems.

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For a premium sports surface and all your Timber Sports Flooring requirements, call 03 9467 6126 to arrange an obligation free consultation and quotation. Or leave your details here for a prompt reply.

Whether it’s regular court cleaning, annual maintenance (including resurfacing and linemarking) or a full reconstruction of your competition court, call Nellakir for premium performance and genuine service.

Nellakir – The Sports Flooring for Champions.

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Nellakir helps young athletes reach their goals by providing the highest quality Sprung Timber Sports Floor playing surfaces.

Thurs 22nd and Sat 24th of August – Boomers Vs USA at Marvel Stadium – Don’t miss it!

It’s the Australian Boomers Vs USA Basketball. Two games – Thursday 22nd of August and Saturday the 24th of August. Tickets are still available now and for the general public in late July, but the games are nearly sold out.

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The games are ‘friendly’s’ as a build up to the FIBA World Cup to be played in China during August.

Australia has named a 17 man squad for the upcoming World Cup. With nine current NBA players, six from the NBL and two from Europe it promises to be a formidable team.

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Playing from the NBA for Australia will be:

  • Ben Simmons – Philadelphia 76ers
  • Jonah Bolden – Philadelphia 76ers
  • Aron Baynes – Boston Celtics
  • Matthew Dellavedova – Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Deng Adel – Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Joe Ingles – Utah Jazz
  • Patty Mills – San Antonio Spurs
  • Andrew Bogut – Golden State Warriors
  • Isaac Humphries – Atlanta Hawks
  • Mitch Creek – Minnesota Timberwolves

The USA squad has yet to be announced.

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Basketball has been played in Australia for over a century. The first recorded game was played in Adelaide between OBI (Our Boys Institute) and YMCA in 1897, six years after the sport was ‘invented’ The early development of the game was originally in Adelaide and its surrounding suburbs, unlike most other sports which saw establishment in and around Melbourne. The sport quickly spread nationally. The first recorded game in Melbourne was played at the YMCA in 1905.

Over 161,200 people play basketball in Australia. With Australian Sports Commission and Government (State and Federal) promoting the game, this number will increase exponentially over time. About 3/4 of all participants are under 35 years of age.

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It’s not surprising that each game scheduled for the Boomers Vs USA will carry capacity audiences at Marvel Stadium of over 50,000 people. It’s a game with relatively similar gender preference for the game. Males lead in participation (58.5%) but this is gradually heading in a 50/50 direction.

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If you play basketball, you may find that these days you’re almost certainly playing on proper Timber Sports Flooring. With more and more Sprung Timber Sports Flooring being supplied to joint school/community facilities, the improved playing surfaces are resulting in a much higher quality of competition.

To ensure your playing surface is always offered in premium condition, contact Nellakir for pre and post event court cleaning, regular scheduled cleaning and annual cyclical maintenance (resurfacing and line marking).

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Nellakir are the leading experts in the construction and maintenance of Timber Sports Flooring. Using the ASF/Horner Sports Flooring Systems exclusively, Nellakir provide excellent end to end service – Construction, Court Cleaning and Annual Maintenance. Call 03 9467 6126 now for a free no-obligation quotation and consultation on all your Timber Sports Flooring requirements. Or leave your details here for a prompt reply.

Nellakir – The Sports Flooring for Champions.

The perfect surface – every time.

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Nellakir helps young athletes reach their goals by providing the highest quality Sprung Timber Sports Floor playing surfaces.

A clean sweep with Nellakir, but Raptors Vs Warriors will go down to the wire.

Nellakir now offer regular court cleaning for all Timber Sports Flooring. Cut down on unnecessary wear and tear on your valuable sports floor surfaces. Nellakir offer expert service and advice on all Timber Sports Flooring – including regular cleaning, whether it’s weekly, pre event, post event or to you schedule. Call now on 03 9467 6126.

Meanwhile, the Raptors have struck back. Andrew Bogut injured in the third leaving an already decimated Warriors exposed. Here is the report.

Toronto has shot the lights out to blast the Warriors off their own court and steal back the NBA Finals with a 2-1 series lead.

The Raptors had six players score more than 10 points as they kept Golden State at arms length for almost the entire contest.

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They did it comfortably in the end with a 123-109 win to leave the Warriors’ dynasty on the brink. Toronto is now just two wins away from a first NBA championship.

An off-balance Fred VanVleet three-point dagger killed off the Warriors with 1.39mins remaining as the Raptors led 118-105.

Aussie Andrew Bogut played his biggest Playoffs game since returning to the Warriors earlier this year, putting up six points, seven rebounds and three assists while also proving to be a spark in defence.
Bogut’s nice left hook from the paint in the third quarter gave him a perfect three from three from the field at the time.

The move got ESPN analyst Jeff van Gundy a little too excited, with the American commentator getting mixed up between Sydney and Melbourne for Bogut’s first season back in the NBL.

“That was a flashback to Melbourne, where he was the MVP,” van Gundy said, clearly unaware the Victorian played for the Sydney Kings this season.

Unfortunately, Bogut was forced to the locker room at the end of the third quarter after appearing to suffer an injury. He returned to the game mid-way through the final quarter — but by then the game was all but over.

The Warriors closed to within seven points in the fourth quarter, but Toronto always found the bucket needed to stomp out any hope of a Golden State fightback.

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The home side simply had no answer to the Raptors’ superior shooting. The Raptors hit 17 or 38 from down town, while the Warriors hit 12 of 36. Without Steph Curry’s extraordinary haul of 47 points, the Raptors shot just six of 22 from beyond the arc.

Kawhi Leonard led the Raptors with 30 points, but Pascal Siakam (18 points), Marc Gasol (17), Danny Green (18) and Kyle Lowry (23) all had big moments.

The Warriors are now desperately hoping stars Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant will be able to return from injuries ahead of Game 4 on Saturday (AEST).

Warriors coach Steve Kerr said before the game it would be a game-time decision about injured shooter Klay Thompson, with the major concern being the possibility of the 29-year-old guard doing more damage to the hamstring if he played with the best-of-seven final level at 1-1.

“Our training staff will let us know the risk,” Kerr said before the decision was announced.

“It’s still early in the series, so if there’s risk, then we won’t play him.”

Thompson, a five-time NBA All-Star, had never missed a playoff game in his career, a streak of 120 in a row that ended with him being benched.

The only player with a longer active streak of playoff appearances for his team is Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James at 239.

Thompson was put onto the active roster and warmed up with his teammates before being benched.

Kevin Durant, Golden State’s top playoff scorer with 34.2 points a game, was ruled out of game three on Tuesday.

The 2017 and 2018 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player has been out for nearly a month with a right calf injury, the Warriors going 6-1 without him.

Kerr said Durant has had good workouts the past two days and he hopes to put him in scrimmage situations on Thursday with an eye to game four on Friday.

“He’s got to continue to improve and not have any setbacks,” Kerr said.

“That’s the main thing.”

Source: news.com.au

For expert service and advice, always call Victoria’s leading experts in Timber Sports Flooring – Construction and Maintenance – Nellakir.

Call 03 9467 6126 or leave your details here for a prompt reply.

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Nellakir helps young athletes reach their goals by providing the highest quality Sprung Timber Sports Floor playing surfaces.

The Playoffs – All squared up 3/3. Ben Simmonds finds his mojo

It looked like it was ‘all over red rover’ for the Philadelphia 76s in game 6 against the Toronto Raptors – Toronto was up 3 games to 2. Ben Simmonds, the Aussie reigning rookie of the year was in the doghouse – then this!

Philadelphia 76s 112, Toronto Raptors 101.

Now the playoff is squared at 3/3.

All five 76ers starters scored in double figures, including Jimmy Butler (25 points, eight assists, six rebounds and two steals), Ben Simmons (21 points, eight rebounds and six assists), Joel Embiid (17 points, 12 rebounds, two blocks and a plus-minus of plus-40) and Tobias Harris (16 points, nine rebounds and five assists).

Ben Simmons answers the call as desperate Sixers defeat Raptors to force Game 7

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A Ben Simmons who plays downhill is one who makes the Philadelphia 76ers a contender.

Entering Game 6, there were questions, and rightfully so. How can the reigning Rookie of the Year make an impact against a team that was so expertly scheming him out of the game?

His answer began with an authoritative start, controlling the pace of the game, en route to 21 points, eight rebounds, and six assists; the Australian leading his 76ers to a 112-101 win against the Toronto Raptors.

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“I think it was making a point of actually doing it, and not talking about it,” Simmons said of his aggressive start. “Obviously I’m pretty quick, so I’m able to push the ball, just being aggressive downhill and playing my game.

It’s moreso, for me, just going out there and doing everything I can to win. The end result’s gonna be the end’s result. Everyone had that same mentality. I think it was just going out there and playing hard, and not regretting anything.”

With the win, the 76ers kept their postseason alive by tying the Eastern Conference semi-finals series at 3-3, forcing a decisive Game 7 is set for a tip-off on Monday (AEST) in Toronto.

Entering Friday’s game, Simmons had yet to make his mark in the second round of these NBA Playoffs. The 22-year-old was averaging just 9.4 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 4.6 assists a game, while being tasked with defending Kawhi Leonard, who’s convincingly making his case as a top-3 player in the world.

Instead of folding, Simmons answered the call. He was aggressive from the tip, playing like the point guard of a team with their backs on the wall. By the end of the first quarter, he had eight points and five assists, having asserted himself in a way we hadn’t seen all series.

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“He was our bell ringer tonight,” 76ers head coach, Brett Brown, said of Simmons.

“His no-turnovers, his attack mode, his four offensive rebounds. His push in pace on miss shots especially. All those things were what made him be an NBA All-Star at 22 years old. I thought he was excellent tonight, and we needed it all.”

By the half, the 76ers were up 58-43, and that lead extended even more by the end of the third.

Of course, it wasn’t just Simmons. Jimmy Butler played a significant role in the first half, ultimately finishing with 25 points and eight assists, while Joel Embiid’s relatively poor shooting night — 5-of-14 from the field — was irrelevant because of his dominant defensive performance; the centre finishing with an impressive +40.

Once again, it was Leonard who led the way for the Raptors — posting 29 points and 12 rebounds in his team’s loss — but the 76ers’ stifling defence made it difficult for his teammates to get going.

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After the game Raptors head coach Nick Nurse praised Simmons for breaking out of his recent slump, and making an impact on both ends of the floor.

“I think our poor shooting got him out in the open a lot. I think he was certainly aggressive,” Nurse said.

“Give him credit. I thought he made a lot more straight line, non-hesitant moves tonight. When he decided to go, he decided to go and he wasn’t thinking about passing. He was taking to the rim and we weren’t providing enough helps down there. And he hurt us on the glass early. We had a couple of good defensive possessions and then his big arms and hands came up and tipped them in.”

Simmons credited his teammates for his ability to play downhill: “Spacing,” he said. “Guys being in their spots, where they need to be, also allowed me to do that. Just me having that mindset of getting downhill, making plays.”

The series has gone back and forth, to the point where it’s tough to point to who’ll end up booking a spot in the conference finals. Both teams have shown the ability to dominate the other; it seems to just come down to what iteration of each roster shows up on any given night.

Source: foxsports.com.au

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