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Australia vs New Zealand
2018 Commonwealth Games Basketball, April 7
|Cairns Convention Centre, Queensland|
Australia’s excellent campaign so far in the men’s basketball continued with a six-point win over Antipodean rivals New Zealand on Saturday night.
New Zealand 73
Both the Australian Boomers and New Zealand Tall Blacks got their 2018 Commonwealth Games campaigns off to fantastic starts, but playing each other will present a much tougher challenge. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from 9pm (AEST).
Australia and New Zealand, almost without a shadow of a doubt are the strongest two sides at the tournament, even without any NBA or European-based players.
The Boomers got things underway with a drubbing of Canada yesterday, but even then, in front of a solid crowd at the Cairns Convention Centre, they didn’t look themselves.
There was rust, there was some poor offensive execution and at times it looked like the plan they had in place simply wasn’t working.
At one point in the first quarter, they even found themselves behind, but managed to recover, putting on a 15-0 run thanks to the presence of some of their bench players including Angus Brandt. From that, the Boomers never looked back as they skipped away with a big win over the youthful Canadian side.
The Boomers, also chock-a-block full of NBL talent, smacked Nigeria in their first game. The 110-65 victory was reasonably well contested for the first half, before the Tall Blacks put on a third-quarter scoreline of 31-8.
It was the first time in the match they genuinely seemed to gel as a unit for an entire quarter and it showed the team are capable of making a very strong run against the Boomers outfit.
The experienced Thomas Abercrombie led the way, dropping 21 points, while fellow forward Mika Vukona was very strong at both ends in the paint. With Rob Loe and Alex Pledger forming a two-man centre rotation, it’ll be tough for the Boomers to dominate the glass like they did against Canada.
Without that, more emphasis will be placed on their guard play and being able to get over the top of a weaker New Zealand backcourt, led by Reuben Te Rangi and Shea Ili.
Late last year, the teams faced off at the FIBA Asia Cup in the semi-finals. On that occasion, the Boomers came away with victory and it’s hard to pinpoint what may have changed since then for either side.
As evidenced at least year’s FIBA Asia Cup, the Boomers should be one step ahead of their neigbours and as a result, will pull away with a victory here to all but lock in top spot of Group A and the easiest possible progression to the tournament final.
Australia by 14.
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