Good friend of Project Spurs, Mookie Schiralli of Bloguin's own A Stern Warning and And Rise, will be pitching in here at Project Spurs, covering Patty Mills' play with Team Australia at the FIBA Oceania Championships. Mookie is from "down under" and is an avid Australia Basketball fan with lots of knowledge on anything Australian basketball. Here is his recap from the recent Australia game versus New Zealand.
Patty Mills has led the Australian Boomers to a 70-59 victory in game one of the two-game FIBA Oceania Championships series against the New Zealand Tall Blacks in Auckland tonight. Despite trailing for almost three quarters of the game, the Boomers managed to pull away in the final quarter.
Mills powered the Boomers scoring throughout the first three quarters, contributing 18 of his 20 points on an array of predominately perimeter shots. The San Antonio Spurs sparkplug had three of his four steals in the final quarter as the Boomers made the decisive plays to put the game out of the plucky Tall Blacks' reach.
New Zealand started out the game aggressively, behind the confident offensive play of normally defensive-focused captain Mika Vukona (11 points, eight rebounds, five assists). The home team received scoring punch from shooting guard Corey Webster (14 points), despite a relatively quiet game by star swingman Thomas Abercrombie (who trialed this Summer with San Antonio, Milwaukee, Houston, Dallas and played with the Phoenix Suns 2013 Summer League squad).
The Boomers, without NBA bigs Andrew Bogut (Golden State Warriors) and Aron Baynes (Spurs), who rested with a hamstring niggle, still had plenty of firepower to show off. With Euro stars Joe Ingles and David Andersen doing their thing, NBA Summer League veteran Luke Nevill and youngsters on the NBA radar in Matthew Dellavedova, Dante Exum and Ben Simmons on the squad, coach Andrej Lemanis could throw plenty at the Tall Blacks.
Mills, the on-court, off-court and social media team leader for the Boomers, played 30 minutes in his usually energetic style. After the game he noted that the slow start to the game was to be expected, given the team had only been together for a week prior to the game. "We pride ourselves on our defensive enthusiasm. We didn't do that in the first half, but did it in the second half and got the win," Mills analyzed in the post-game television interview.
Next up the Boomers and Tall Blacks face up for the second half of the FIBA Oceania Championships at AIS Arena, Canberra, Australia on Sunday. The result will dictate seedings at the 17th FIBA Basketball World Cup to be held in Spain next year.