In front of a raucous crowd, which saw an equal amount of Chinese fans as Australians, the two teams played out a thriller. Both Australia and China showed an ability to fight back from near double-digit deficits and in the end nothing could split the teams in regular time. Little could in overtime either, but the Boomers prevailed 67-65.
West Australian big man Luke Nevill, who started last season in the NBL with the Melbourne Tigers before moving to Russia, was outstanding for the Golden Star Boomers with 20 points and 13 rebounds, of which nine were at the offensive end.
Perth favourite Damian Martin was solid in the point guard spot, finishing with 11 points, five assists and a steal with his Wildcat teammate Jesse Wagstaff impressive with six points off the bench.
Captain David Barlow had eight points and five assists with Aron Baynes scoring seven points.
Golden Star Boomers head coach Brett Brown was proud of the toughness shown by his team in a physical encounter, while two debutants especially stood out to him.
"They shot 29 per cent and we shot 32 per cent, and there were misses all over the floor. It was a physical game from both sides, and I thought that they bothered us and we bothered them. I was proud of our aggression and I do think it bothered them," Brown said.
"I thought Daniel Dillon came in and gave us a spark, and I especially liked Jesse. I thought Jesse was one of the key difference maker. Nerves played a role with some of those guys who put on the uniform for the first time, but Daniel in a little burst and Jesse for his entire minutes stood out."
Shipeng Wang top scored for China with 22 points while Li Yi scored eight, Zhizhi Wang eight and Wei Liu eight. China national coach Bob Donewald Jr is well aware of how physical Australia plays and felt missed free-throws and rebounding cost his team.
"They are the most physical team in the world other than the Russians and it's good for us, that's why we are here. I just thought it was great for our guys, but unfortunately we couldn’t come up with the win," Donewald said.
"You don’t miss 12 free throws and you don’t get out-rebounded by 10 and expect to get lucky at the end with a shot. The game, though, was lost in rebounding and missed free throws."
China got off to a strong start with Shipeng Wang hitting a big three inside 23 seconds and after a strong basket for Australia from Baynes, the Chinese did well to open up an early 7-2 advantage.
The Boomers then went on a 10-0 run that started with Barlow, before Damian Martin nailed a wide open three. And after a massive Baynes three-point play on the back of a huge dunk, the Australians were up 12-7. The home team finished strong to end the quarter leading 19-14.
Four quick points early in the second quarter to Wagstaff helped the Boomers open up an eight-point advantage and then it stretched to as many as nine on a bucket from Baynes. But China hit back with nine straight points to level the scores, going into the long break with a one-point lead.
It was a quiet start to the second half but China was able to extend its lead to 40-34 before the Boomers kicked it up a notch.
The Australian team went on a 9-0 run to go from being six points down with just over five minutes to go in the third period to three points up with three and-a-half minutes to go.
China wouldn’t go away, though, and soon regained the lead and held a 49-45 advantage at the end of three.
It was the three debutants that helped the Boomers regain the advantage to start the last quarter with Dillon and Rhys Martin scoring two points each, and Bose five quickly.
A three to Kickert allowed the Australian team to open up a seven-point advantage with just over four minutes to go, but once again China refused to go away. A big shot from Zhizhi Wang levelled scores with 23 seconds remaining and Kickert missed a tough shot on the buzzer which would've snatched victory at the end of regular time.
The game went into overtime and remained tight all the way. A big two points from Nevill had Australia up with China having the ball for one last play. On this occasion Shipeng Wang missed and the Boomers held on to win by two points.
Game 2 of the inaugural YouYi Games between Australia and China will be played in Singapore on Sunday.
Golden Star Boomers 67 (Luke Nevill 20, Damian Martin 11, David Barlow 8) defeated China 65 (Shipeng Wang 22, Wei Liu 8, Zhizhi Wang 8, Li Yi 8)