Australia crowned kings of Asia in first FIBA Asia Cup
21 August 2017
BASKETBALL: Another complete team performance from the Australian Boomers has seen them claim the FIBA Asia Cup with a 79-56 victory over Iran, finishing their first foray into the tournament unbeaten with six consecutive wins.
Under head coach Andrej Lemanis, ten Boomers hit the scoreboard to defeat Iran who had just five bench points while the Aussies effectively shut down Iranian star and tournament MVP Hamed Haddadi with their four-man rotation through the front court working cohesively as a unit.
Daniel Kickert had the job on Haddadi early but the Boomers forward went to work offensively as well while Brad Newley, who had hit just one three-pointer prior to the final, knocked down two inside the first five minutes to give Australia an early 12-2 buffer.
Iran settled after a time-out and in half-court sets they utilised their passing game to trim the deficit to one.
Angus Brandt then came on to match with Haddadi and the two enjoyed some trash-talk while Jason Cadee (seven points, five rebounds, eight assists) finished the term with an acrobatic lay-up through contact to give the Boomers a four-point edge at quarter-time.
Despite Haddadi filling up the paint, Australia continued to attack the rim which was exemplified by Mitch Creek (12 points, four rebounds, four assists) soaring in for a dunk while Matt Hodgson and Kickert cleaned up the glass with a couple of big offensive boards.
Moving to a double-team on Haddadi then did the trick at the defensive end as the Boomers began to open up a healthy buffer while forcing ten turnovers.
Nick Kay (nine points, three assists) put the finishing touches on a 13-3 run with a three-point buzzer-beater to end the half and give Australia a 17-point lead.
The Boomers' intensity did not waver after the break and Newley (an equal game-high 18 points) kept what was a perfect night going with an incredible off-balance runner to beat the shot clock.
However, Hodgson and Kickert found themselves in foul trouble and Iran took advantage from the free-throw line, cutting the deficit to 11 points while Australia went scoreless for over four minutes.
Brandt (ten points, eight boards) was able to end the drought with a nice hook before Kickert (14 points, six rebounds) returned from the bench to keep the pressure on the Iranians and maintain a 13-point edge at the final break.
With it all on the line, Iran came out aggressive but the Boomers were too composed and an 8-2 run to start the fourth period clinched the contest.
Their gold medal victory came after a 106-79 victory over New Zealand in the Semi-Final on Sunday.
Find the full box score here.
Speaking to the even team performance, no Australians were named in the All-Star Five with the entire roster enjoying the spoils of a Championship victory instead.
The Boomers' focus now turns to the FIBA Asian World Cup qualifiers which begin this November.
Australia will be hosting clashes against Japan on November 27, Philippines on February 22, 2018 and Chinese Taipei on February 25, 2018 with the first window of games the first step towards the September 2019 World Cup.