The NBL season kicked off with a momentous occasion for Tasmanian professional sport.
The Australian Boomers have served some revenge to New Zealand after the Bledisloe Cup disaster, defeating them by 27 points in the semi-final of the FIBA Asia Cup.
The Boomers came flying out of the blocks, and the difference in talent between the two sides was telling from the get go. Australia, with their all-NBL roster against New Zealand with just a sprinkling of NBL talent were always the stronger side on paper and that’s the way it proved.A
A 20-0 run through the first quarter had the Boomers up 22-2 at one point, with Adelaide 36ers centre Matt Hodgson dominating the paint and the trio of Brad Newley, Jason Cadee and Mitch Creek looking unchallenged as they led proceedings from the get go.
By the end of the first quarter, New Zealand appeared shell shocked and unable to respond, down by 31 points to 10.
New Zealand started the second term a little stronger, at one point bringing the lead back under single figures, mainly thanks to the New Zealand Breakers player Shea Ili.
In just 17 minutes of game time before a hand injury took him out, Ili had 14 points on 50 per cent shooting to go with four assists. He was doing everything for New Zealand, and the level of support he received was never going to cut it – particularly disappointing was the inside presence of Samuel Timmins and the almost non-existent games of Reuben Te Rangi and Finn Delany.
At the other end of the court though, the men in green and gold were unstoppable. They did lose a slower, tighter second quarter, but came home in a powerful second half display.
Cadee, Daniel Kickert, Nicholas Kay, Mitch Norton and Mitch Creek all ended up in double figures while the hustle and energy of the Boomers led them to win the rebound count 41-32.
With New Zealand also in foul trouble at times and losing Ili in the second half, they were never a great chance to come back after falling behind by 20 so early in the piece.
Australia will now move onto the final and play either Iran or Korea, while New Zealand will play the loser of that match in the third-place play-off.
The final will be blogged live on The Roar at 4am (AEST) on Monday Morning.
Australian Boomers 106
New Zealand Tall Blacks 79