Leading by seven points at half-time, Andrew Bogut (ten points, ten rebounds and three blocks) took it upon himself to open up a game winning advantage in the third term despite a persistent back niggle.
Off a missed free throw, he snuck in from the side and put back the shot with a highlight dunk before stuffing Jarrod Kenny with a big block at the defensive end.
Nathan Jawai (four points, three rebounds) then set a massive screen on Reuben Te Rangi, sending him to the floor while freeing up Patty Mills (nine and five with four assists) for a three-pointer. The physical nature of Australia’s play helped them get out to an 18-point lead and ice the match.
“We settled down a little tonight and got the ball inside,” said Andrew Bogut post-game. “Whenever we needed a key bucket we would go inside-out and we’d get a score.”
Speaking on the back injury that could have kept him out of the game, Andrej Lemanis was full of praise for Bogut.
"I think it’s perhaps underestimated by the general public just what a significant effort that was from Andrew. He could have easily said it was just too sore, I’m not going to play. But it meant something to him to be part of the Boomers program.
“It’s so pleasing to have a group of guys that are that committed to wearing the green and gold singlet.”
Matthew Dellavedova was also inspired by Bogut's performance.
“It definitely fires up the boys because he’s putting his body on the line. Especially early on, getting a few buckets and blocks and to start the second half the way he did, gave us an emotional boost."
Not to be overshadowed, Dellavedova was also superb at both ends, collecting 14 points and five assists while holding Corey Webster to 7-24 shooting after his breakout display on Saturday night. As a team, the Boomers shot 53% and hit 13 more free throws while the Tall Blacks kept the margin close thanks to 11-28 shooting from long range.
“Our pace was probably a little slow in Game 1 and we have a lot of depth so we wanted to make sure we could use that,” said Dellavedova. “You are going to back Jawai, Bogut and Dave [Andersen] to score more often than not.”
After going scoreless in Game 1, Ryan Broekhoff started Australia with their first basket of the game before Dellavedova continued his powerful offensive display from Saturday night with seven first-quarter points.
Having battled under the rim with Andrew Bogut through most of the series, Isaac Fotu (12 points, eight rebounds) proved his ability from outside the paint in the second quarter with a pure three-pointer.
He trimmed the lead to three with seven consecutive points for the Tall Blacks but Chris Goulding (eight points) was able to respond as he expertly sliced through the defence before finishing with two finger-rolls.
A late triple from Te Rangi (14 points on 4-5 three-point shooting) pulled the deficit back to seven at the main break in an even second term.
However, the physical influence of Bogut and Jawai gave complete control of the match to Australia straight out of the main break.
Some late full-court pressure from New Zealand made the scoreline respectable as they went on a 16-2 run in the final four minutes but Dellavedova sunk a clutch three-pointer to end the resistance.
Box scores can be found here.
The Boomers have joined the Opals in qualification for Rio in 2016 while the Tall Blacks have a final chance to make it to the Olympics at the 2016 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Men.