Nonetheless, Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis will be concerned about his team’s ongoing sloppy play following last night’s 92-85 loss to FIBA’s fourth ranked nation.
The loss came after the Boomers went down to Lithuania 80-68 in their first warm-up game early Thursday morning (Australian time).
Lithuania capitalised on Australia’s high turnover count overnight, with sharp execution at the other end.
“Obviously the issue for us tonight was turnovers,” Lemanis said postgame. “We had 20 of them in the game and I think, at times, our execution offensively was a little bit erratic.”
Dante Exum sat this one out as Matthew Dellavedova (3 points, 2 assists and 5 turnovers) and Cam Bairstow (6 points, 2 rebounds and 2 turnovers) both hit the floor for the first time this campaign after being rested for Game 1.
There were brief moments of execution….
Including a couple of tasty possessions that saw former national junior teammates Andrew Bogut and Damian Martin combine…
But, for the most part, it was a hit-out marred by sloppy play and careless turnovers.
“They’re a very good basketball team who are going to exploit your weaknesses,” Lemanis said. “That’s exactly why we’re here.
“I thought we were better than we were the other night and that’s what this tour is about for us, preparing for our [Oceania] Championships.”
The Lithuanians are tough, there’s no doubt about it, but the majority of the Boomers’ turnovers overnight were self-inflicted. They came relatively early in the shot clock (most occuring with 10+ seconds still remaining) and were rarely the result of quick Lithuanian hands or deft anticipation. Really, they were just sloppy.
Cue the Benny Hill music…
Ball protection was also a problem in the Boomers’ previous loss, with Lemanis lamenting his team’s 11 second half turnovers post-game.
Of course, this is a team that has only been together a few days and these games are all about developing that continuity and dusting off the cobwebs.
“We’re still trying to find our rhythm with that,” Lemanis explained.
As well as gifting them easy baskets via turnovers, the Aussies also found it difficult to contain Lithuania’s excellent offensive execution in the half court.
The hosts shot 34/64 (53%) from the field, 6/10 (60%) from the three-point line and 18/25 (72%) from the charity stripe.
“It’s hard to win basketball games if you turn it over 20 times and let the opposition shoot that sort of percentage,” Lemanis added.
One shining light for the Boomers thus far has been the play of veteran Boomer David Andersen.
The three-time Olympian scored 12 points in Game 1 and backed that up with a game high 20 points overnight, shooting 6/10 from the field, 3/4 from long range and 5/6 from the foul line.
Andersen’s versatile inside-outside skillset was on display for much of the night, as he stretched the floor with his shooting and drew fouls with his pounding work in the low block.
Bogut almost double-doubled (12 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 1 block) but was loose with the rock at times (4 turnovers) while Brock Motum continued to attack, finishing with 15 points on 3/4 shooting from the field (including 2/3 from long range).
For Lithuania, Mindaugas Kuzminskas (14 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists) was his usual effective self while 19-year old Domantas Sabonis – son of Arvydas – also impressed, finishing with 7 points (3/5 FG), 8 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal in 22 minutes of playing time.
In the end, Lemanis was fairly philosophical about the 0-2 series loss.
“It’s really great for our preparation to be able to come and play against good teams. We will take a lot out of these two games,” he said.
“We wish them every success in their championship and hopefully we can get through our championship and see them at the Olympic Games.”
The Boomers will now head to Slovenia for two more exhibition games before returning home to tackle New Zealand in Game 1 of the Oceania Championships at Rod Laver Arena on August 15.