Boasting NBA stars Pau Gasol (LA Lakers) and Marc Gasol (Memphis Grizzlies), along with Serge Ibaka (Oklahoma City Thunder), Jose Calderon (Toronto Raptors), Rudy Fernandez (Portland Trailblazers) and Ricky Rubio (Minnesota Timberwolves), Spain were too strong for the Boomers, dominating both inside and outside, connecting on 13 of 21 three point attempts to streak away to the big 39 point win.
Spain rocketed out of the blocks, putting together a 34-18 opening stanza, which included some scintillating shooting from long range from the likes of Juan Carlos Navarro. Pau Gasol was effective early, dropping six points in the first few minutes of play also, helping to build Spain’s big early lead.
The Boomers lifted their defensive intensity in the second period and clawed their way back. A Patty Mills-led charge saw the Aussies go on a 9-0 run to cut the deficit to within 10 points.
The Boomers put together 19 points for the term, but Spain responded, punishing the Aussies from beyond the arc late in the quarter to head into the half-time break still in front by 16 points, shooting 8 of 13 from the three.
The Boomers made one last push in the third period to close the gap, but Spain again responded, pushing the lead out to 20 points heading into the last quarter, before running away with the big 39-point win.
“It’s the reality of the landscape. They’re arguably among the two best teams in the World and we played them on their home court and we just had a poor defensive game and that’s been our back-bone,” said Boomers head coach Brett Brown.
“We give Spain credit: they shot the three-point shot well, they were 13 of 21 from the three, Pau Gasol and Serge Ibaka were difficult for us to guard. They had a fantastic combination of an inside-outside game and we give them credit.”
Patty Mills top-scored for the Boomers with 17 points, while Aron Baynes finished with 11 points.
For Spain, five double-digit scorers put their winning score-line together, led by Pau Gasol’s 17 point haul, while brother Marc finished with 14 points. Serge Ibaka also finished with 14 points.
“We missed Aleks Maric and (Brad) Newley — we needed some more bodies and we needed some more talent and I think we fought as hard as we could and we just ran out of juice and at the end of the day, their team played well on the night,” Brown said.
“They started the game well, they shot well all game, there was a period in the middle of it all where we cut the lead to 10 and I thought we were playing our kind of defense and we were getting out and running.
“But we had some costly turnovers and that’s how the team exploits it. They shoot the ball so well and they’re covered at every position with a lot of depth and talent and there’s no margin for error,” he said.
The Boomers finish up an 11-day intense European tour, with four wins and three losses, after accounting for Serbia, Croatia, Great Britain and China in the London Olympic test event, as they now turn their attention to New Zealand and the FIBA Oceania Championship, with a ticket to the London Olympic Games up for grabs.
“We are a defensive program. We have a high level or respect and appropriate understanding of how good New Zealand is and how dangerous they are and we know we’re going to have to defend if anything is going to happen,” said Brown.
“We know them and they know us and they are extremely well coached and they do a great job of playing together, but I have a lot of confidence in our team,” he said.
“I back our guys. They’ve invested a lot of time, they’ve invested a lot of work, they have not taken one thing for granted and I think they deserve a lot of credit for the commitment that they have made to our national program. I hope that I have prepared them well. Everybody has dug in and done the best that we can at this stage, and we’re going to look forward to playing New Zealand in Australia.”
Game One of that FIBA Oceania Championship series, which is to be played as a unique double-header with the Jayco Opals, will be in Melbourne on 7 September at the State Netball Hockey Centre (AKA ‘The Cage’). Game Two will be 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.
Boomers 58 (Mills 17, Baynes 11) def by Spain 97 (P. Gasol 17, M. Gasol 14, Ibaka 14)
Quarter by quarter
1st: 18 – 34
2nd: 19 – 19
3rd: 13 – 17
4th: 8 – 27
3 – 6 Sept Training Camp - Melbourne
7 Sept 2011 FIBA Oceania Championship for Men (vs NZ) – Game 1, Melbourne
9 Sept 2011 FIBA Oceania Championship for Men (vs NZ) – Game 2, Brisbane
11 Sept 2011 FIBA Oceania Championship for Men (vs NZ) – Game 3, Sydney