[FIBA World Cup qualifiers] Next Gilas foe Australia also 2-0

 

 

FINDON, Australia — The reigning FIBA Asia Cup champions Australia Boomers continue to make the Asia-Oceania zone their house after posting a 82-58 thrashing of the Japan Akatsuki five at the FIBA 2019 World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

The win brought delight to a 5,000-6,000 crowd at the Titanium Security Arena in this suburb outside the South Australian capital of Adelaide. It was the Boomers’ first game in the Australian state in 20 years.

But the Boomers had to work their way in bruising past a tough-playing Japanese side that may give hints on how Gilas of the Philippines will match up with the Australians on Feb. 22, 2018.

Australia coach Andrej Lemanis and center Daniel Kickert during the post-game press conference in Findon, Australia. (photo by Jeremaiah Opiniano/The Filipino Connection)

Australia coach Andrej Lemanis and center Daniel Kickert during the post-game press conference in Findon, Australia. (photo by Jeremaiah Opiniano/The Filipino Connection)

The Boomers struggled in the first quarter as the Akatsuki kept pace with just a 22-23 deficit. But the first three possessions in the second quarter started off the Australian breakaway 28-22 that led to a 43-31 first half spread.

The lead ballooned to its biggest 49-33 of an alley-hoop until Japan brought it down to seven, 55-48.

Japanese star guard Yuki Togashi, at 5’6,” kept the pace of the game to Japan’s liking in the first. But as long as he was sent out at the 8:50 mark in the second, guards off the bench struggled in dictating the offense.

The Mitch Creek alley-hoop pass to fellow Adelaide 36er Matt Hodgson sealed the deal, 79-58.

The Boomers squad here, all from the local National Basketball League (NBL), showed why they will be the toughest test for the Philippines Gilas team. The current five did not even have an NBA player in its roster.

“We need those sorts of games for this team to build,” Lemanis said who’s discontented with 16 turnovers and some stumbling moments due to the physicality of the Japanese. “Yet if you held a team to 58 pts. You have a chance to beat them.”

But the Japanese third-quarter run that led to a 48-55 deficit baffled the Boomers, yet Lemanis credits the team’s defense for surviving the Akatsuki onslaught. Japan can’t score in the last three minutes of the game.

On looking forward to the game against the Philippines, Lemanis calls the style of Filipino play as “free flowing” and with “much freedom.”

The Philippines is a “good athletic group,” Lemanis said. “They  move the ball, let them fly, play with good energy and fun around them.”

“We want these good games and it’s fun. These games help build the team.”

Lemanis said the small gap between travels from country-to-country was tough. He and topscorer Daniel Kickert (center) wished there will be an additional allowance of a day prior to the next game.

“You need to give the players a chance to recover from the flights,” Lemanis said.

 

 

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About JEREMAIAH OPINIANO