21/04/2024

Will McDowell-White was pivotal in the Boomers' semi-final win against the Tall Blacks. (Image: @TomHersz - Twitter)

The Australian Boomers held off Trans-Tasman rivals the New Zealand Tall Blacks in the semi-final, led by a Will McDowell-White masterclass.

The Australian Boomers held off Trans-Tasman rivals, the New Zealand Tall Blacks in the semi-final, winning 85-76, with Will McDowell-White guiding them to the Grand Final of the FIBA 2022 Asia Cup.

Both teams struggled to start the match as they felt each other out but the Boomers were able to gain an early lead, however, the Tall Blacks weren’t going to let them have it their own way.

Guards Taylor Britt and Flynn Cameron and centre Jordan Hunt gave the Tall Blacks the offensive punch early, ending the first quarter with four, five, and eight points respectively to reduce the Boomers’ lead to four points at the first break.

Although the momentum was evenly shared in the first quarter, Australia took a stranglehold on the contest as it turned up its trademark defensive pressure on New Zealand, causing multiple turnovers and getting deflections.

The Boomers went on a seven to zero run, extending their lead to nine points, and it came off the back of guard Will McDowell-White continuing his stellar tournament form. McDowell-White was able to consistently get his teammates open looks, continuously driving to the basket and drawing the help defender and kicking the ball out to a teammate.

McDowell-White wasn’t the only Boomer behind Australia’s success in the quarter with Mitch McCarron showing leadership and carrying the offensive load when Australia needed a bucket, with New Zealand holding Thon Maker to six points in the first half.

Keanu Pinder also had a massive second quarter on both ends, blocking shots on the defensive end and scoring on the offensive end when passed the ball.

The Boomers went into the main change with all the momentum, on the back off shooting the ball more efficiently, outscoring the Tall Blacks 26-18 to give themselves a 12-point lead.

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Down by 12 points, New Zealand needed to start the second half with a bang to give itself any chance of challenging the reigning champions, but Australia’s defence was too strong, with New Zealand’s first couple of shots of the quarter all contested.

Despite the slow start to the third quarter, the Tall Blacks were able to fight back and were led by youngster Flynn Cameron and Jordan Hunt, who the broadcast mentioned was playing like a man possessed.

New Zealand was able to reduce the lead to six but Thon Maker was having none of it, scoring seven straight points to extend Australia’s lead back to 10 points. Sloppy turnovers and a lack of patience from the Tall Blacks led to easy points for the Boomers, giving them a 12-point lead going into the final change.

The Tall Blacks started the last quarter on a nine-to-two run, reducing the margin to five points, striking fear into the Boomers, who needed to call a time-out to stop the momentum.

However, the timeout couldn’t stop New Zealand as it was able to consistently get stops which lead to key buckets from Sam Timmins and a four-point play from Kruz Perrott-Hunt which inched it to within three points of Australia.

With the game on the line, Will McDowell-White and Thon Maker ensured Australia wasn’t going to lose, hitting back-to-back three-pointers to give it some breathing space before McDowell-White hit the dagger and his fourth three-pointer of the night to see Australia into the Grand Final.

The Boomers will go into the Grand Final full of confidence, no matter who their opponent is with several of their players heading into the game with great form.

Australia finished the game with five players scoring double digits. Thon Maker led the way after a quiet first half, finishing the game with 18 points and nine rebounds, while McDowell-White finished with 15 points, seven assists, and three rebounds.

The Boomers were also able to get a handy contribution from Mitch McCarron (13 points, seven assists, four steals, and two blocks) who played his best game of the tournament, while Tyrese Proctor (13 points) and Keanu Pinder (11 points, six rebounds, a steal, and a block) continue their spectacular form.

The Boomers will play Lebanon in the Grand Final of the FIBA Asia Cup, tonight at 11:00 pm AEST.

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