Boomers finish FIBA World Cup with consolation defeat of Georgia

Australia has completed its World Cup campaign with a 100-84 win over Georgia.

Australia has completed its World Cup campaign with a 100-84 win over Georgia. Photo: AP

A “wound up, fired up” Brian Goorjian has defended Australia’s short-lived Basketball World Cup campaign after a consolation 16-point defeat of Georgia.

A 100-84 win in Okinawa on Sunday improved the Boomers’ tournament record to 3-2, after losses to Germany and Slovenia knocked them out of quarter-finals contention.

The world No.3 and Tokyo Olympics bronze medallists, boasting a record nine NBA players, had designs on bettering a fourth place at the last World Cup.

Comfortable defeats of Finland, hosts Japan and Georgia showed fresh elements to a new-look Boomers outfit helmed by 20-year-old point guard Josh Giddey.

But they fell short in true tests against Germany and Slovenia, with Australia’s attack breaking down and its inability to claim crucial rebounds also hurting it.

Goorjian didn’t select veteran Boomers Matthew Dellavedova or Aron Baynes, then suffered the late loss of key centre Jock Landale (ankle).

Newcomers Giddey, Xavier Cooks, Jack White and Dyson Daniels – Josh Green and Duop Reath played limited role in the last Olympics – meant the side underwent major renovations.

“I’ve read a lot, respect everyone’s opinion,” Goorjian said.

“I said to the group inside, ‘I’m not embarrassed’.

“This isn’t a continuation of rose gold (the Olympic bronze medal team) and I knew when I re-signed to come back to this that I’d have to do some nasty stuff and we’d be in a position of change.

“It’s not just five new guys; it’s major pieces.”

Goorjian confirmed he would “definitely” lead the Boomers at the Paris Olympics next year, and said the shock recent expulsion of his Bay Area Dragons from their Chinese competition would give him more time to scout.

“(There’s) a huge bright side for our next Olympic campaign,” Goorjian said.

“I’m a little wound up, as you can tell. I’m fired up for the next challenge.”

Dante Exum (18 points, four assists) was again confident off the bench, while Reath (16 points, three-of-three triples) shot smoothly as Australia fended off a Georgian rally early in the final term.

The Boomers turned the ball over 11 times in a sloppy first hal,f but Patty Mills (19 points, five assists, six turnovers) found his groove with 16 points before the main break.

The 35-year-old helped power a 31-point second quarter as a Joe Ingles triple on the buzzer – Australia’s 10th for the half – opened a 17-point lead.

Georgia fought back to within 12 points at the final break but Goorjian’s men found enough stops to halt their run, while Exum hit a three-pointer on his return to the game to push the margin out to 20.

Australia was 25 points better than Georgia with point guard Giddey on the court, with his 15 points making him the youngest leading scorer for any country in World Cup history.

Again Goorjian kept veteran sharpshooter Chris Goulding on the bench until late in the fourth quarter, when exciting 20-year-old NBA guard Daniels was also introduced.

Goorjian said of that decision that his sole focus was to win and didn’t want to empty his bench until the game was won.


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