The Australian Boomers have come from behind against New Zealand in the group stage of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, winning 79-73 despite trailing at every break.
The Tall Blacks owned a five-point lead at half-time and a two-point lead at three-quarter time but the Boomers ran over the top of them with a 21-14 final term with Nick Kay proving to be the hero.
He drilled 4-4 from the three-point line, despite shooting just 28% from beyond the arc during the NBL regular season, with his fourth three-pointer coming inside the final two minutes to give Australia an insurmountable lead.
Chris Goulding (ten points, four rebounds, two steals) also came up big in the final term, picking the pocket of Reuben Te Rangi on two occasions which set himself up for a lay-up before he fed Kay for a dunk as the forward finished with a team-high 21 points on 8-13 shooting overall.
— 7CommGames (@7CommGames) April 7, 2018
Prior to that final term, the Tall Blacks had an answer for everything the Boomers were throwing at them and Shea Ili (22 points) set the tone with a couple of early baskets.
New Zealand’s defence was suffocating the home team and while Brad Newley was able to bring some life to the Aussies with a dunk off the bench, they still found themselves trailing for the first time at the Comm Games.
The Tall Blacks then pushed their advantage out to a game-high six points early in the second and they forced the Boomers into the bonus with Nathan Sobey (seven points, six rebounds) getting called for a technical foul as their frustrations grew.
Kay and Daniel Kickert were the men to settle things down though, combining with some high-low passing to minimise the damage and keep the deficit to five points at the main break.
Out of half-time, Jason Cadee (four points, three assists) found Kay for his first three-pointer (a shot clock buzzer-beater) and then dropped in two free-throws to tie the game.
The Boomers looked to have found some momentum but New Zealand again responded, scoring the next six points through Ili and Thomas Abercrombie (ten points).
Foul trouble again became a concern for Australia as they found themselves in the bonus but luckily, Finn Delaney could not make the home side pay as he missed four consecutive attempts from the charity stripe.
Sobey then connected from distance late in the third term and when Kay and Kickert (12 points) followed with three’s of their own to start the fourth period, the Boomers grabbed a lead they would not surrender again.
Find the box score here.
A potential preview of the gold medal game next week, Australia will be better for the close contest.
While their forwards ultimately proved the difference at the offensive end, the Boomers will be concerned by the -14 differential in boards and -9 differential in offensive rebounds and it is sure to be an area of focus for their final group stage game against Nigeria on Monday.
With two victories already, Australia have all but booked their place in the Semi-Finals when the men’s basketball will move from Cairns to the Gold Coast following the group stage.
Australian Boomers and Opals Schedule at the 2018 Commonwealth Games (all times AEST):
April 8: Opals vs. Canada at 6.30pm
April 9: Opals vs. England at 5.30pm
April 9: Boomers vs. Nigeria at 9.00pm
April 13: Opals Semi-Finals at 6.30pm or 9.00pm
April 14: Boomers Semi-Finals at 10am or 12.30pm
April 14: Opals Bronze (6.00pm) and Gold Medal (8.30pm) Games
April 15: Boomers Bronze (9.00am) and Gold Medal (12.30pm) Games