The opening Olympic warm up wins might have been impressive but it was a dominant and emphatic showing from the Australian Boomers against Nigeria with Chris Goulding unstoppable in an eventual 108-69 win.
Both the Boomers and Nigeria were coming off wins to begin the week of exhibition matches at Michelob Ultra Arena at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas against USA Basketball and Argentina, but there was nothing close about what happened Tuesday night (Wednesday AEST).
Even with Australia without NBA foursome Aron Baynes, Patty Mills, Matthew Dellavedova and Joe Ingles, they put on a show of just what might be possible at the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games.
If you ever needed 40 minutes of basketball to showcase the strength of the NBL, then this game was it. Not only did Melbourne United captain Chris Goulding prove unstoppable knocking down all seven of his three-point attempts for 21 points, but plenty more stars of #NBL21 delivered.
Brisbane Bullets star Nathan Sobey had his standout game of the week in Vegas with 15 points, five assists and four rebounds while reigning Rookie of the Year and expected Lottery Pick Josh Giddey got his first chance on the floor and had 14 points, four rebounds and three assists in 25 minutes.
Reigning Grand Final MVP at Melbourne United Jock Landale also looked every bit an NBA-calibre big man once again with 14 points and five rebounds in his 15 minutes on the floor for the Boomers.
Xavier Cooks also played some good minutes with three points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals while new Illawarra Hawks signing Duop Reath was tremendous with 17 points. Nick Kay also had seven points.
Josh Green was exciting for the Boomers too with his ability to get in the passing lanes and finish on the break, and knock down his shots for 11 points and three steals.
After the game, Goulding was just impressed with how locked in the Boomers were defensively from the get go to continue their Olympic preparation despite the absence of Baynes, Mills, Ingles and Dellavedova.
“We’ve got a good system, I’ve been playing in it for a lot of years now and I’m pretty confident with where I can find my shots in it,” Goulding said.
“I think we were locked in from the jump defensively. We had seen how they’d played their last two games, they’re a potent offensive team with a lot of athleticism and they can really shoot the ball. So we had to be keyed in on that.
“Then at the other end we had to play to our strengths by moving the ball and with man movement, and we were able to run up a pretty hefty international score so we are pretty happy with that.”
It didn’t take long for the Boomers to catch fire starting the game with a 12-0 run after an early Nigeria three. Jock Landale was on fire early and then so was Nathan Sobey before Josh Giddey, Chris Goulding and Nick Kay closed the opening term with threes for Australia to lead 26-13.
Landale and Sobey combined to stretch the lead to 30-13 to open the second term before a couple more threes from Goulding, and another to Giddey to close the half saw the Boomers in a dominant position leading 49-29 at the break.
Landale and Dante Exum drained three-pointers to open the second half as the dominance from the Boomers continued.
Duop Reath got rolling with one from downtown and then a strong three-point play, before Goulding’s standout night really took shape with three more from downtown to close the third quarter to give Australia the 38-point edge by three quarter-time.
Another 9-0 run in the fourth term showed there’d be no let up from the Boomers with Josh Green on fire with a huge breakaway dunk off a steal and then a three-pointer with Australia rolling to the 39-point win.
The Boomers will have one last warm up again against USA Basketball in Las Vegas on Friday night (Saturday morning AEST) before heading to Tokyo.
LAS VEGAS BASKETBALL EXHIBITION
TOKYO OLYMPICS WARM UP
AUSTRALIAN BOOMERS 108 (Goulding 21, Reath 17, Sobey 15)
NIGERIA 69 (Emegano 10, Okogie 10)