Written by Kane Pitman.
Joe Ingles continues to be the centrepiece of the Australian offence, producing a stunning all-around performance that helped propel the Boomers to their second consecutive win to open the FIBA World Cup.
Ingles finished with 17 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists and 2 blocks, while drilling four of his six attempts from beyond the arc.
It was another masterclass from the Utah Jazz forward, and a much-needed performance against a rejuvenated Senegal side looking to respond from a blowout loss to Lithuania.
When asked postgame if he was aware of the magnitude of the near triple-double in World Cup competition, Ingles was typically modest.
“I didn’t know that and even though I do now it still doesn’t really bother me. The only goal was to win the game, that’s what all our focus was since that Canada game,” Ingles responded.
The game against Senegal could have been viewed as the ultimate trap game for Australia, with the strong Lithuanian team set to face the Boomers on Thursday, but it was the energy and exuberance of the Senegal squad that stood out to begin the game.
“Senegal is a good team. We knew they were going to come out and play with a toughness that we needed to match,” Boomers head coach, Andrej Lemanis said postgame.
“They are also unique in the size that they have, that could be the tallest overall team that we’ve played against in my time as coach so that presents some challenges.”
“They did a good job in the first half of getting the game to a tempo that suited them and perhaps we didn’t get into some of the stuff we needed to get the game to a tempo that we liked.”
Coming off a 54-point loss to Lithuania, Senegal were desperate from opening tip, with the battle on the offensive glass proving critical to their success. Senegal held an 13-6 edge on the offensive boards on the night, repeatedly giving themselves second chance opportunities.
“They had us kind of rattled a little bit in that first half, just the way they play, they all crash the boards, they play freely, they are all 6-foot-8, we had to address that at the half,” Ingles said about the Boomers slow start.
With the Boomers clinging to a 36-33 lead at the half, Ingles found some support from his long time Australian teammate, Patty Mills. Mills exploded for 12 points in the third quarter, helping the Boomers to gain ascendancy.
When Mills buried a corner three with 5:39 left in the third quarter, Australia had extended their lead to double-digits for the first time, forcing Senegal to call for a timeout with the score at 49-39.
While the pesky Senegal squad remained within striking distance, it was some timely outside shooting from Chris Goulding and Mills that ensured the Australians would come away with the victory.
Mills finished with 22 points to lead all scorers for the Australians, while Goulding’s two triples now has him shooting 66 percent from deep in the FIBA World Cup. Aron Baynes was the other Boomer in double-digits, chipping in with 12 points, including a number of thunderous dunks.
Australia will now turn their attention to a tough Lithuanian team, with top spot in ‘group h’ potentially on the line pending their result against Canada later on Tuesday night.
“Just happy to come out with a win, [we will] go watch the film now and get ready for Lithuania,” Ingles said.
Australia v Lithuania is on Thursday night, tip-off is at 9:30pm (AEST) – You can watch live on Fox Sports or stream via Kayo Sports.