Despite playing before a rabidly pro-China crowd, the Boomers (ranked number 11 in the world by FIBA) came from behind to upset the number nine ranked team on their own court.
The Boomers’ Australian NBA duo of David Andersen and Patrick Mills teamed up to score the winning basket for Australia. With one second left to play, Mills drove to the hoop and found Andersen, who made an acrobatic lay-in.
Mills top-scored for the Boomers with 13 points, while Matt Nielsen added 12. Joe Ingles, Mark Worthington and Andersen all chipped in with eight points apiece. For China, it was their NBA players who shone. New Jersey Nets star Yi Jianlian had a game-high 17 points while former Dallas Maverick and LA Clipper Wang Zhizhi had 12.
Boomers’ head coach Brett Brown said Mills and Andersen showed their NBA class with the final play.
“We called a time out and made sure we got the ball to Patty, and he made a great play to find David,” Brown said. "David then made a difficult, skilled shot. That was just two NBA players making plays. They got us over the line.”
Brown was satisfied after earning a close win first up after an uneven first half.
“The first half we were very erratic, and it was really a typical first game after a tough training camp,” said Brown. “Our rhythm was just not there yet and we were very scattered. We had 11 first-half turnovers and sent China to the line 17 times because we came out a little too aggressive. That’s a natural by-product of us coming off a very good training camp.
“We got down double digits twice, but to the players’ credit they persevered and the second half was much better,” Brown continued. “We only had four turnovers, they only got to the line eight times and I was happy with our defence in the second half. Damian Martin and Adam Gibson particularly did a great job defensively in the two spot and Joe Ingles also did a good job getting out in front of their shooters.”
Australia outscored China 20-13 in the final period to earn the win. The Chinese led 37-28 at the half.
The Boomers’ next game will be tomorrow night (Thursday 29 July) at 4:00PM local time (6:00PM AEST) when they face off against powerful European team Slovenia, who are ranked 20th in the world. In the tournament’s earlier game, Slovenia beat Iran 107-74 behind Primo Brezec’s 13 points.
The Stankovic Continental Cup is a crucial part of the Boomers’ preparations for the 2010 FIBA World Championships, which will be held in Turkey from 28 August to 12 September.
The Boomers are the defending champions of the Stankovic Continental Cup tournament, after having defeated Turkey in the final last year to claim the title.
The official tournament website of the Stankovic Continental Cup can be found at http://bscup.tom.com/english/index.html.
Photos from the game against China can be found at: http://pic.bscup.tom.com/vw/211059-1.html#picchange
Golden Star Australian Boomers 64 defeated China 63
1st Quarter – AUS 17, CHN 16.
2nd Quarter – AUS 28, CHN 37
3rd Quarter - AUS 44, CHN 50
FINAL - AUS 64, CHN 63.
AUS – P. Mills 13, M. Nielsen 12, J. Ingles 8, M. Worthington 8, D. Andersen 8
CHN – Y. Jianlian 17, W. Zhizhi 12, L. Wei 11.