Boomers best Korea in Bendigo

DESPITE an early scare from the visitors, the Australian Boomers emerged victorious in their clash against Korea in the 2024 FIBA Asia Qualifiers at Red Energy Arena on Thursday night.

The visitors led for nearly 30 minutes of the match, and took a two-point lead into the final term, before the Boomers stormed home in the final quarter to produce an impressive 14-point win and move one step closer to booking a spot at the Asia Cup.

Australian Boomers (85) def. Korea (71)

The Boomers entered the match with a roster full of National Basketball League (NBL) talent, and given Korea has traditionally been a high-performing side at FIBA level, Australia would need to bring some scoring punch to the game.

The Koreans were at their best to start the match, and kept the Aussies at bay with some suffocating defence and making the opposition pay down the other end with some fast-paced transition offence. Korea led by as much as 13 points early in the game, and although Australia remained in striking distance, the visiting side still looked in control.

Australia trailed by six points with just six minutes to play, and looked in serious danger of dropping an important game in its campaign. However, back to back baskets from Dejan Vasiljevic and Josh Bannan dragged the two-time reigning Asia Cup Champions back into the game and tied up proceedings.

These baskets sparked a massive run for the Aussies, who finished the game on a 30-10 run and completely overwhelmed Korea in a game-breaking run. The Boomers relied on the experience of its veterans and the coaching savy of Brian Goorjian to deliver when it mattered most en route to a tremendous comeback victory.

Australia’s dominance on the glass was a massive factor in the match, with the Boomers controlling the skies to outrebound Korea 52-38.

Veteran Boomers forward Nick Kay was the star of the show for Australia, producing a massive double-double of 21 points (7/14 FG, 5/7 2PT) and 14 rebounds and was one of the key contributors when the Boomers took control down the stretch.

NBL guns Vasiljevic (14 points, five rebounds, eight assists) and Bannan (11 points, 11 rebounds) stamped their authority on the international stage, with the latter’s Boomers debut proving eye-catching to say the least, while talented youngster Ben Henshall hit five of his 10 attempts from the field to finish with 14 points.

Goorjian said post-game that although it was a bit of a fright, he was pleased with how the Boomers rallied late.

“I just really enjoyed the group,” he said. There’s been an energy and excitement and appreciation of wearing the green and gold. We knew coming into this game that it was gonna be patchy on the offensive end since you only got a couple of days together.

“I told them afterwards, I like the way they won. I thought we got some contributions from guys like Ben Henshall, who hasn’t played in the NBL virtually, hasn’t played many minutes, and it was an important game for us. This is one of the teams are the big ones. We got a lot of contributions from a lot of people.”

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