By Jessica Robinson.
The Australian Boomers have moved to a round one 6-0 record at the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers, after clean sweeping the third window on home turf, over this past week at John Cain Arena.
Led by Captain, Matthew Dellavedova, the Boomers were electric in front of 21,391 roaring Melbourne fans across their three games.
Launching the campaign with an edge-of-your-seat, seven-point game one victory over China, 76-69, Dellavedova led from the front with 16 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Mitch McCarron was crucial in defence, with six steals in addition to his 13-point scoreboard contribution.
Game two against Japan displayed a more all-round performance from the Boomers, with the Aussies defeating the visitors, 98-52. From 7”1’ Thon Maker racking up nine rebounds under the ring and Sam Froling’s 12 points, six rebounds and four assists game, the Boomers’ talls were able to halt Japan’s offence.
Will McDowell-White’s impact on the game was a stand-out in the eyes of Boomers’ Coach, Brian Goorjian, as he put on 14 points, three rebounds and six assists. His ability to bring his teammates into the game, a great sign for the debut Boomer.
“I was very high on him coming in and I thought he is a very important piece of this. He’s a great pick-n-roll type, we see him with a real bright future and he’s one we’re having a real good look at for the next one. He, McCarron and Delly have benefited by having one of those next to them when they’re out there,” Goorjian said post-game two.
Sam McDaniel also had a breakout 14-point performance while Wani Swaka Lo Buluk and Keanu Pinder had their first Boomers’ minutes and hit their first points in the green and gold at the Friday night win.
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The leadership displayed amongst the group throughout the series was impressive to Goorjian especially after the Japan game, as Delly was quickly supported by a fresh team who had only come together the week prior to the games tipping off.
“There’s something I haven’t experienced in basketball and with this national team, a strong leadership group and the power there. My job was to keep my mouth shut and to step back and let them control this,” Goorjian said.
“There has been additional empowerment of guys underneath, you see it in Jack White, he’s been tremendous in helping Delly, along with Thon Maker and Mitch McCarron. There’s been four of them there with Delly leading the charge.”
Despite playing a key role throughout the first two games, Jack White became explosive in clutch moments of game three. The rematch between Australia and China had tensions rising, as the scoreboard remained tied up until three-quarter time.
However, it was White who led the fourth-quarter charge, with three crucial three-point shots made, achieving a double-double, totalling 16 points and 14 rebounds and extending the Boomers’ lead. Mitch McCarron’s two steals at the start of the fourth helped set the tone for the rest of the game where Australia was able to hold China to just three fourth-quarter points, coming away with the win, 71-48.
Six Boomers debutants became seven, as Alex Ducas hit the court for the first time in the final game. While Tyrese Proctor also came in to make his first appearance since the first window of the Qualifiers in 2021, Ducas and Proctor replaced Jack McVeigh and Clint Steindl, who were both subbed out due to injury.
“It was good to see the young guys suit up and get some minutes. We knew China were going to come out and be extremely physical and we needed to combat that with our defence, and I feel like the guys did a really good job,” Jack White said post series.
“I’m extremely proud of the boys for getting these three wins, it’s just been such an awesome experience being able to represent my country alongside the whole group and staff and to do it in Melbourne on home soil has been an absolute honour.”
“To win all three of these games is a really good feeling and I’m really proud of the group,” Goorjian said.
The Boomers now look toward the FIBA Asia Cup, which tips off on Tuesday, July 12 in Jakarta, Indonesia. The team is to be announced in the coming days. Find the full schedule here.
The FIBA World Cup qualifiers will continue with round two set to take place in August.