Dual-Olympian Patty Mills was at his destructive best on both ends of the floor, finishing with a game-high 20 points and four steals, as the Boomers outscored the Tall Blacks 38-20 in the second half to turn a seven-point deficit into a 11-point win.
After struggling at both ends in the first half a different Boomers outfit remerged after the main break, with Mills, Matthew Dellavedova (11 points), David Andersen (12 points, seven rebounds) and Anthony Petrie (seven points, four assists, three blocks) leading the resurgence.
A brilliant defensive display in the final quarter ensured the Boomers would hold a significant points advantage heading back to Canberra for Game Two, outscoring their opponents 16-7.
Australian Boomers Head Coach Andrej Lemanis said he was pleased with the way his team overcame their early game struggles to get the win on foreign soil.
“For me it was a typical example of a team that hasn’t played together before,” Lemanis said.
“In particular in the first half our offense didn’t generate what it needed to generate and as a result we were shooting a lot of long shots. In the second half I thought we did a much better job of growing the offense, we started to get some penetration and we started to get some easier looks.
“In the second half the defence was pretty good too, keeping them to just 20 points. We did a good job of getting them out of the lane, whilst maintaining heat on the basketball.”
Lemanis put a call out to Canberra to get the AIS Arena and get loud on Sunday.
“I thought the New Zealand fans did a fantastic job and made the place loud,” Lemanis said.
“Hopefully the people of Canberra can do the same come Sunday.”
Supported by a raucous home crowd, the Tall Blacks settled the fastest, but were not able to show that advantage on the scoreboard as the Boomers stayed in touch.
Momentum appeared to be shifted in the Australians favour as the opening period came to a dramatic end, with Ryan Broekhoff making a buzzer-beating three-pointer to give the visitors a 21-18 lead.
The home team came out strong in the second quarter, regaining the lead and pushing it out to seven points at the main interval.
Eager to silence the home fans, the Boomers came out all guns blazing in the third quarter with their defensive pressure causing turnovers and easy buckets.
The emphatic 22-13 third quarter was only bettered by a dominant 16-7 final period, with the Boomers starting core strangling the life out of the Tall Blacks and the crowd.
Boomers debutants Dante Exum and Ben Simmons got their first taste of senior international basketball, with the teenage duo looking at home on the big stage.
Action now heads to Canberra and the AIS Arena on Sunday as the Boomers will look to make it a clean sweep when they host New Zealand in Game Two.
Tickets are available through Ticketek at www.ticketek.com.au or call 132 849.
ABC TV will be broadcasting the game LIVE around Australia, with coverage of the Opals beginning at 2:00pm (AEST) and the Boomers at 4:00pm on ABC1.
For all the latest from the Jayco Australian Opals and Australian Boomers in the lead-up to the 2013 FIBA Oceania Championships visit the Basketball Australia website at www.basketball.net.au.
Australian Boomers 70-59 New Zealand Tall Blacks
Points: Mills 20; Andersen 12; Dellavedova 11; Petrie 7; Ingles 6; Nevill 5; Broekhoff 3; Exum, Gibson, Simmons 2.