The Australian men’s national basketball team (known as the Boomers) defeated South Sudan 88-67 on Thursday night in an exhibition game ahead of the FIBA World Cup. Playing at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia used the matchup as preparation before heading to China to compete for a World Cup medal.
Mills Sets Tone with Hot Shooting
Veteran guard Patty Mills set the tone early for the Boomers, knocking down a three-pointer off a screen on the opening possession. Mills went on to score a game-high 20 points while shooting 5-of-9 from downtown. The San Antonio Spurs star gave Australia an offensive spark from the perimeter that South Sudan struggled to contain.
Cooks Dominates Inside
While Mills did damage from the outside, power forward Xavier Cooks powered his way inside for 19 points on 9-of-12 shooting. The reigning NBL MVP threw down multiple dunks and displayed his athleticism against South Sudan’s big men. Cooks’ ability to run the floor and finish at the rim proves he can compete against elite international competition.
Goulding Steady in Backup Role
With Ben Simmons sitting out the exhibition schedule, Chris Goulding assumed a key role off the bench for Australia. Goulding posted a solid all-around line of 15 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists while committing just 1 turnover. The veteran shooting guard gives Australia scoring punch, shooting ability and composure with the second unit.
Green Flashes Two-Way Potential
18-year-old Josh Green continued to display the tantalizing potential that makes him a high NBA draft prospect next year. Green stuffed the stat sheet with 11 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks. But it was his explosive athleticism that stood out, throwing down multiple highlight dunks in transition. If Green can refine his jump shot, he projects as a quality two-way wing player for Australia.
Australia Rallies after Slow Start
South Sudan came ready to play, jumping out to an early 10-4 lead behind 7 quick points from power forward Mathiang Muo. The Australian defense struggled to contain dribble penetration early as South Sudan guards got into the paint.
But the Boomers tightened up their defense as the game wore on. Their aggressive press forced turnovers that led to transition scoring opportunities. After trailing 22-21 after the 1st quarter, Australia outscored South Sudan 67-45 the rest of the way to pull away.
Balanced Attack Overpowers South Sudan
Australia simply had too much offensive firepower for South Sudan to match up with. Five Boomers scored in double-figures compared to just three for South Sudan. Australia’s balance allowed them to withstand Mills cooling off in the 2nd half.
48 Points From Bench Crucial
Australia’s reserves outscored South Sudan’s bench 48-21. Xavier Cooks and Chris Goulding provided the bulk of this production, but the bench mob as a whole gave Coach Andrej Lemanis strong minutes. Their advantage over the South Sudanese backups allowed the starters to rest.
Interior Defense Stifles South Sudan
While South Sudan did hit 9 three-pointers, they struggled mightily to score inside against the Boomers’ size. Australia blocked 12 shots, holding South Sudan to just 34 points in the paint. Aron Baynes and Andrew Bogut patrolled the paint effectively, deterring drives to the basket.
In the end, Australia’s hot perimeter shooting, balanced attack and defensive adjustments were enough to gradually wear down South Sudan. The 88-67 win builds momentum heading into their World Cup opener against Canada on September 1. If their supporting cast continues producing, the Boomers will be a podium threat in China.