For the Boomers, Brad Newley was impressive, finishing with 23 points, while Joe Ingles backed-up his dominant performance against Serbia to drop 16 points in this contest. Adam Gibson ended with 13 points.
For Great Britain, NBA star for the Chicago Bulls, Luol Deng had 26 points and 9 rebounds, while Joel Freeland finished with 22 points and Devon Van Oostrum added 9 points.
Trailing by two points inside a minute to play in regulation time, Joe Ingles was fouled and sent to the foul line with the chance to tie things up. He made both, and at 80 apiece, there was time for either team to claim victory. Neither could score in the final passages however, and the game went into extra time.
The Aussies struck first in OT, with Gibson scoring inside off a Mark Worthington assist, but Great Britain rallied and edged out to a six-point lead thanks to the sharp shooting of Joel Freeland.
The Boomers came again, and when Brad Newley found Matt Nielsen for two, before connecting from long range himself, the Aussies were back within one point.
Gibson was fouled and sent to the line, making one of two to tie things up as Great Britain, who were struggling to score, had 10 seconds left to try and steal the win. But it was the Aussie captain, Matt Nielsen, who did the stealing, snatching the ball and finding Gibson in the dying stages who was again fouled and sent to the charity stripe.
He made one of two again to put the Aussies’ noses just in front. A final attempt from Luol Deng to grab victory misfired as the Boomers picked up their fourth win of the tournament to finish with a record of 4-1.
“There were 81 cumulative free throws shot in the game — it was just a very physical game and we had a lot of difficulty guarding them driving us one-on-one and just throwing their bodies into us,” said Boomers head coach Brett Brown.
“I give them credit: Great Britain did a fantastic job of forcing us to guard them off the dribble and because of that, there were 81 free throws and they ended up shooting 46 free throws. But just to get the win was good,” he said.
In the third period, Great Britain scored 24 points, 16 of them coming from the foul line, and much of this came from the physical play of the likes of Luol Deng, who attacked the Aussie defence. But as Brett Brown explains, the team found a way to win, something he’s pleased about as the team moves towards it’s qualifying series for London 2012 against New Zealand.
“I thought that we inched along in the right direction,” said Brown of the team’s progress in London.
“I think we have been getting progressively better. I think tonight’s win probably just shows that we were able to find a way to get a win. We sat our two point guards — like everybody else at this stage of the tournament, they’re a little bit beaten up and a little bit tired, so we ended up sitting Patty Mills and Matty Dellavedova — Adam Gibson came in and I thought he did a great job. Joe Ingles had two good games in a row, and as a group we needed everybody,” he said.
The team now travels to Spain for two games against the Spanish national team who are ranked number 2 in the world behind the USA, and boast NBA superstars Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, Rudy Fernandez, Juan Carlos Navarro and Jose Calderon as well as rising star guard Ricky Rubio.
“They will be the best team that we play. They are an annual world force lately, they’re arguably among the two best teams along with the United States, and to play against that team in Spain, against a hostile crowd and that type of talent is just invaluable.
”We’ll go in there with some confidence and feeling good that we’re going in the right direction. There’s no time to feel too good about ourselves. We only have two weeks left [until the FIBA Oceania Championship] and we can’t give an inch. We have to take advantage of every day.
“We all go into it with that attitude because we’ve all got respect for who we’re playing. We know we’re playing against a well-coached and veteran type team in New Zealand. You’ve got to find ways to make sure that every day you’re moving in a forward direction,” he said.
Game One of that series will be in Melbourne on 7 September at the State Netball Hockey Centre (AKA ‘The Cage’), Game Two at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre on 9 September and Game Three at the Sydney Entertainment Centre on 11 September. Tickets for the Melbourne and Sydney games are on sale now through Ticketmaster, while tickets to the Brisbane game are now being sold through Ticketek.
Australian Boomers 91 (Newley 23, Ingles 16, Gibson 13) def Great Britain (Deng 26, Freeland 22, Van Oostrum 9)