After a 10-day round trip to Bahrain and back to Bendigo, the Boomers have extended their FIBA World Cup qualifying record to 8-0.
Two convincing wins over Bahrain and Iran has Australia sitting atop Group F and itching closer to World Cup qualification.
Led by Nick Kay, the Boomers were able to tally a 54-point victory over Bahrain (104-50) and follow up with a 30-point win over Iran (98-68). Game one saw every Boomer hit the scoreboard, with four registering double digits, meanwhile game two saw Australia challenged in the third term before locking in the dub.
Boomers’ debutants Dejan Vasiljevic and Luke Travers quickly impressed, as DJ top scored across both games (22 & 23 points respectively), and Travers put on a 17-point and nine rebound showing against Bahrain.
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Angus Brandt was strong in his 13-minute court time of game one in his return to the Boomers lineup (17 points, four rebounds, three assists), while continuing their FIBA Asia Cup form, Mitch McCarron, Rhys Vague and Sam Froling each executed their roles.
With a chance to provide the youth on the team more exposure to international basketball, Centre of Excellence athletes, Rory Hawke and Alex Toohey were granted increased game time, adding to their experience on the senior national team. Alex Mudronja was also able to make the most of his minutes and hit the scoreboard quick across both games.
Coach Mike Kelly was impressed with how the relatively new Boomers’ line-up responded when faced with a pressing Iran uniform.
“I thought we were playing at a level that would make it competitive, and then we started playing at a level where we could instill what we wanted to do on the game. Super proud that the guys got kind of smacked in the face but kept going and stayed with what were trying to do, probably lifted a little bit and knocked down some shots.”
After wrapping their fourth qualifying window, Australia potentially had the chance to lock in their World Cup qualification, pending the result of the Bahrain v China game. If Bahrain had won, the Boomers would have qualified, but China was too strong and therefore Australia will have to wait for the fifth qualifying window in November.
What needs to happen now for the Boomers to qualify in November?
Australia will hit the road again to play Kazakhstan and Iran.
Although the Boomers currently sit on top of Group F with 16 points, there is only three points splitting the top three.
The top three teams from each group will qualify for the FIBA World Cup 2023.
If Australia loses both games in the next window, they could run the risk of dropping out of the top three, so they will be looking to continue their perfect run.
The fifth window of the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers tips off on November 10.