In a commanding display of skill and teamwork, Australia kicked off their FIBA World Cup campaign with an impressive victory over Finland. The dynamic duo of Patty Mills and Josh Giddey spearheaded the Boomers’ charge, combining for 39 points in a resounding 98-72 win.
The Boomers faced initial challenges as they struggled to find their rhythm in the first half, allowing Finland to keep the contest competitive. The Finnish team, led by first-time NBA All-Star Lauri Markkanen, showcased tenacity and solid defense that initially put Australia on the back foot. The opening half indicated the potential for an upset as the Finnish squad demonstrated their determination to disrupt the tournament favorites.
However, halftime served as a turning point for Australia. Coach Brian Goorjian’s strategic adjustments and inspirational words injected new life into the Boomers’ gameplay. Emulating the iconic Allen Iverson, the team implemented side pick-and-roll plays that instantly created opportunities for shooters and opened up spaces on the court. The result was a rapid change in momentum that caught Finland off guard.
With Josh Giddey at the helm, orchestrating plays and creating opportunities, Australia quickly shifted into fifth gear. The relentless pressure imposed by the Boomers proved to be too much for Finland to handle. Giddey, showcasing his versatility, contributed 14 points, 9 rebounds, and 8 assists, falling just shy of a historic triple-double. As Giddey revealed, “I thought about the triple-double a bit, but the most important thing is that we got the win.”
Patty Mills, who had faced challenges in the NBA season, returned to the international stage with renewed vigor. He led both teams in scoring with an impressive 25 points, accompanied by 8 rebounds and 4 steals. Mills’ redemption was evident as he stated, “I’ve always taken great pride in playing for my country. When you put on the green and gold, it’s a different feeling, a different responsibility. I wanted to come out here and play my heart out for Australia.”
Lauri Markkanen’s strong start for Finland, with 19 points in the game, was overshadowed by Australia’s unyielding defense in the second half. As the Boomers amped up their defensive efforts and found their offensive groove, Finland struggled to maintain their early momentum. The game gradually slipped from Finland’s grasp, with Australia demonstrating their championship credentials.
The second half showcased Australia’s offensive prowess, with a staggering 51 points scored. In contrast, Finland’s offensive capabilities faltered under the pressure, leading to their eventual defeat. The final scoreline of 98-72 underscored the Boomers’ dominant performance and their position as strong contenders in the FIBA World Cup.