Thrilling overtime win over China30 May 2014
BASKETBALL: The Australian men's team have started their series with China on a winning note, with the debutants inspiring a rousing 97-95 come-from-behind overtime victory at Challenge Stadium in Perth.
Making their debuts, Lucas Walker (17 points and seven rebounds) and Brock Motum (15 points) came up huge for the home team, combining for 22 points in the final quarter and overtime.
Down 12 points heading into the final quarter, Australia could not break down the stubborn China team, still trailing by 10 points inside the final three minutes.
It was the inspiration play of Walker (11 final quarter points) and Motum (final four Boomers points of regulation) that broke the visitor’s resistance, with the two rookies making it a debut to remember.
Sydney Kings star Ben Madgen came up big in overtime, scoring six points on his way to 15 points for the game, while WA centre Luke Nevill was brilliant early, scoring 16 points and grabbing six rebounds in 17 minutes.
Australian Head Coach Andrej Lemanis said his team’s effort and commitment on the defensive end was the driving force in the come-from-behind victory.
“We started to get more aggressive and attack the rim in the second half, but it was our full court defence that disrupted their rhythm,” Lemanis said.
“It’s a credit to the team because they kept believing (they could win), they kept playing hard, they kept doing the defensive things, kept trying to be disruptive and at no stage did they throw the towel in, and that attitude will always give you a chance.”
It was the fast starting Chinese team that looked in control early, with drawing early fouls and hitting their open looks to establish a 14-7 lead midway through the opening quarter.
The introduction of Nevill saw the Australians begin to find their offensive rhythm, with the 218cm centre posting seven points in the quarter to have the hosts in touching distance in the dying minutes before late baskets had the visitors leading 25-14.
The second quarter started with both teams trading early baskets as Worthington began to assert himself on the contest, keeping the locals within striking distance as the sharp-shooting Chinese looked to push clear.
A Ben Madgen three-point play reduced the Chinese lead below double digits for the first time in nearly a quarter, before a late surge saw the margin again push beyond 10 points, with China leading 47-32 on the back of a 7-0 run to close out the half.
The second half saw the Australian men race out of the blocks to cut the China lead to just nine points three minutes into the quarter, before the visitors again found their shooting range to push the lead to 59-45 late on.
A Brock Motum-inspired late rally had saw Australia close out the quarter on a 8-5 rally to trail 64-53 heading into the final period.
Trailing 68-55 with eight minutes, Australia found their defensive intensity, holding China scoreless for more than three minutes, reducing the margin to seven points with five minutes remaining in the game.
Looking to capitalise on their ascendency, Australia were reduced by two players with Hugh Greenwood and Worthington fouling out, with both teams spending the final minutes at the free throw line.
Walker did his bit to lift the team, following a three-point play with an acrobatic lay-up, key steal and another under the ring basket, cutting the China lead to just two points with 37 seconds remaining.
In an amazing close to the regulation, Motum stepped up to be the hero, scoring the final four points before delivering the game-saving block to see the teams finish level at 81-81.
Madgen and Rhys Martin carried the momentum into overtime, leading Australia to a 6-2 run to start the extra period.
Not to be counted out, China showed resolve in overtime, levelling the scores at 89-89 inside the final two minutes on the back of a 6-0 run.
Madgen stepped up from the free throw line and Motum again found this way to the basket to give Austtralia a 93-91 buffer with 17 seconds remaining.
Cameron Gliddon and Martin stepped up to ice the game for Australia from the free throw line, ensuring a winning start to the Sino-Australia Challenge, taking Game One 97-95. The second and final game in Australia takes place at Challenge Stadium on Saturday night.