Australia’s point guard duo of Matthew Dellavedova and Patty Mills along with David Andersen have carried the Boomers to a 71-59 victory against the New Zealand Tall Blacks in Game 1 of the 2015 FIBA Oceania Championship.
The back court pair combined for 32 points including 5-13 three-point shooting as the Boomers overcame a sluggish start to record a convincing win.
Dellavedova’s defence on Corey Webster was also important although the Kiwi guard stayed hot throughout the night, collecting a game high 22 points. Unfortunately for the visitors, Webster eventually ran out of partners at the offensive end.
“I thought we did a good job of maintaining our intensity and our commitment to the work that is required at the defensive end,” said Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis.
“We were able to hold a good three-point shooting team [to 25%] and only gave up six offensive rebounds which is a key against a team that smashes the offensive glass.”
The Tall Blacks opened a 10-6 advantage early in the first quarter and they maintained that advantage to quarter-time despite being trigger happy from beyond the arc, hitting 2-9 from the three point line.
Six straight points for the Boomers from Patty Mills began the second quarter before Nate Jawai put the exclamation on the streak with a dunk.
Webster and Tom Abercrombie halted the momentum swing but when Dellavedova poured in six straight himself, the Boomers fully took control to lead 34-26 by half-time.
In a great battle against Andrew Bogut (four points, four rebounds) all night, Isaac Fotu (six and ten with three assists) scored his first basket early in the third quarter while Webster kept the New Zealand scoreboard ticking over.
Three-pointers from Mills and Andersen quelled the resistance though and kept a five-point lead for Australia going into the final term.
A goal-for-goal encounter ensued in the fourth quarter as Mills and Jarrod Kenny traded three-pointers.
Cameron Bairstow (eight points, five rebounds) finally broke the deadlock with a mid-range jumper to push the lead out to seven before Andersen iced the game from the baseline with a trademark fade-away.
“Andersen has always been known as one of the best big men in Europe,” said team mate Brad Newley.
“When we put him in a position where he can do his thing, he is close to unstoppable with his fade-away. He showed in his home town what he can do and I’m pretty proud for him to do that today.”
Those last-minute points could prove very handy as a three-point lead with three minutes remaining was pushed out to 12 by the final siren.
Speaking on the loss, Tall Blacks coach Paul Henare believes his side can overcome the deficit back at home.
“For us, it’s half-time and we’re down 12. That’s how we have to look at the series. I know our guys are jumping at the bit to get home and try and close out the series.”
The Boomers will now fly to New Zealand to face the Tall Blacks in Wellington on Tuesday night.