The Australian Boomers sealed a sweep of the FIBA Oceania Championship on Sunday with a game two victory over the New Zealand Tall Blacks, 76-63. In front of a Canberran home crowd at the AIS Arena, San Antonio Spurs point guard Patty Mills was pivotal in a 28-7 third quarter by the Aussies which turned the tide of the game.
Mills scored 13 of his 21 points in the third quarter, as the Boomers addressed a 33-39 half-time deficit as they aggressively seized control of the game. The speedy guard, who added five steals and three assists to his 5/9 three-point shooting, paired with lanky Maccabi Tel Aviv swingman Joe Ingles to change the tide. Ingles had a typically solid all-round line with 12 points, five assists and four rebounds.
The Tall Blacks put Australia on the back foot during the first half, on the back of a confident second quarter by shooting guard Corey Webster. The New Zealand Breakers shooter scored 10 of his 16 points in the second term, on an array of jumpshots as he led the Kiwi offense from a three-point deficit to a six-point lead. As usual, NZ captain Mika Vukona was also all over the floor, leading by example on his way to nine rebounds for the contest.
Ultimately, Mills’ strong showing at the start of the second half allowed Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis to give a solid run to promising youngsters Ben Simmons, Dante Exum, Cameron Bairstow and Ryan Broekhoff as the Aussies retained most of their lead in the final quarter.
The victory affords the Australians a higher seeding in the 2014 FIBA World Cup, to be held in Spain. By that time they hope to regain the services of both Aron Baynes (San Antonio Spurs) and Andrew Bogut (Golden State Warriors).