A late surge from the Airbnb Australian Boomers wasn’t enough to overcome Slovenia, going down 90-80 in their opening game of the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Gran Canaria, Spain overnight.
Trailing by as many as 16 points in the final quarter, Brad Newley led the Boomers back to within five points inside the closing seconds, scoring eight of his 13 points in the during a 15-4 run.
Slovenia would close the game out from the free throw line to claim a 10-point win, ending hopes of a remarkable come-from-behind win from the Australians.
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The star of the Boomers European tour, Aron Baynes was at his dominant best, posting a game-high 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting to go with seven rebounds.
Baynes found support in experienced trio David Andersen (14 points and four rebounds), Newley (13 points) and Joe Ingles (12 points and three assists).
Boomers Head Coach Andrej Lemanis said he was pleased with the offensive performance of the team, but lamented crucial turnovers during the third quarter charge.
“For us to score 80 points – that puts you a good position to win the game,” Lemanis said.
“We shot pretty well ourselves, we shot at 46% from the three point line and 51% overall, so that’s a pretty good offensive performance.
“In that third quarter when we got it back and were only one (point) down, we got a stop, went down a pulled the trigger on a three early in the shot clock.
“That’s one thing we’ve been focusing on is style of play in those situations and ensuring we have quality possessions.
“Unfortunately we missed that one and then in the next four possessions we had three turnovers, which immediately released any pressure we had been able to build up to that point.”
With little time to reflect on the loss, Lemanis said the team must now look ahead to tonight’s game against Korea.
“All along we have spoken about not getting too high or too low depending on the outcome of the games,” Lemanis said.
“For us the most important thing now is to play well tomorrow – that’s all we can concentrate on.”
It was a free-flowing start from both teams as an aggressive Ingles and a sharp-shooting Ryan Broekhoff set the tempo before the Slovenians found their groove.
Inspired by their NBA star Goran Dragic, the Slovenians went on an 11-4 run late in the opening quarter, eventually building a 27-19 advantage.
This lead would grow to as much as 13 points early in the second quarter before the Boomers rallied to cut the deficit to six points at half time led by Baynes and Newley.
After a quiet first half, Andersen exploded into life following the restart, completing a three-point play as part of a 7-2 Boomers run that cut the lead to just one point.
The cards were falling into place for the Boomers, with Dragic resting and the Slovenians in the penalty inside four minutes into the quarter, but they could not make it count as the Europeans showed poise under pressure.
A 15-6 burst had the lead out to double digits, with the Boomers eventually cutting it to 69-60 heading into the final quarter courtesy of the production of Andersen, who had nine points.
The final quarter started with a 7-2 run by the Slovenians, extending the lead beyond 15 points for the first time as the game appeared to be getting further out of reach for the Boomers.
Trailing 81-65, the Australians began to eat away at the lead and thanks to back-to-back turnovers from Slovenia, leading to Newley baskets – the margin was back to just five points inside the final minute.
This would be as close as the Boomers would get as Slovenia iced the game from the free throw line to secure victory in the opening game of the tournament.
Next up for the Boomers at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup is a clash with Korea TONIGHT with the game televised LIVE on ABC2 at 9:30pm AEST.