"We talked about that this morning, to not make the mistake of coming out here and thinking it's going to be anything other than a war," Longley said following today’s shoot-around at Wellington’s TSB Arena.
“We’d be silly to take it any other way than that.”
The Boomers’ will be without the 15,000-strong home supporting crowd tonight in Wellington, instead surrounded by around 4,000 raucous Kiwis eager for their team to overcome the 12-point deficit suffered in Melbourne.
“The size of the arena doesn’t have anything to do with the energy,” explained Longley. “Some of the best surrounds I’ve played in have been small and full of passionate fans and that’s what you’re going to have tonight. It will play a role and the Haka plays a role – that’s all part of what we’ve got to get our heads around and figure out how to beat.”
The Tall Blacks are banking on repeating their efforts of 2009 where they earned their biggest win over the Boomers with a 100-78 victory in Wellington.
"We'd love to emulate that, it's a different group of guys but everyone is confident with what we can do,” said Tall Blacks’ captain Mika Vikona.
The Australian team has been buoyed by the overnight arrival of newly-crowned NBA Championship-winner, Andrew Bogut who delayed his trip across the ditch to receive treatment on his back. Bogut moved freely during Tuesday’s shoot-around, a welcome sight compared to Saturday night when the 30-year-old was clearly uncomfortable.
“He’s fine,” Longley told media at the shoot-around. “He looks good this morning.” Asked if Bogut will make in on court, Longley didn’t hold back.
“I expect so, yes. I’d be very surprised if he didn’t.”
And so with a boarding pass to Rio 2016 on the line, the Boomers will arm themselves for a battle royale tonight at TSB Arena, eager to join the Jayco Opals in automatic Olympic qualification.
Australian fans can watch the game live via FIBA’s YouTube channel on the link below.