Boomers pass Philippines 'stress test'

Coach Andrej Lemanis was happy with Australia's reaction after going behind against the Philippines.
Coach Andrej Lemanis was happy with Australia's reaction after going behind against the Philippines.

Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis believes his squad passed a major stress test to remain unbeaten after three FIBA World Cup qualification matches.

After falling behind in the first and second quarters to a team ranked 21 spots below them, the Boomers relied on their depth and team defence to run out 84-68 winners.

Australia's ability to rotate quality players from the bench allowed them to run high-pressure full-court defence for long stretches to eventually wear down Gilas Pilipinas in the second half.

"Everybody comes in and does their little part so that over the course of 40 minutes, we can sustain a level that we believe is hard to play against," Lemanis said after the Boomers took sole possession of top spot in Asia's Group B.

Along with stifling the Philippines' running style of play, the Boomers also exploited their height advantage by dominating the rebound count 50-30.

But it was not all smooth sailing with a spirited Philippines outfit taking a five-point lead in the second quarter.

"What I was really pleased with was our attitude and reaction to when the Philippines got in front," Lemanis said.

"We didn't get stressed or panicked or go away from those things that we believed that we needed to do."

The atmosphere inside Margaret Court Arena felt more like an away game for the Boomers with a large contingent of passionate Filipino supporters cheering wildly at every basket.

"We spoke about that fact that in the Philippines, basketball is their No.1sport, they get great support wherever they go and it's quite possible when we walk into the stadium, it feels like we are away so the guys were ready for it," Lemanis said.

Cairns Taipans captain Cam Gliddon sparked the Boomers with three three-pointers in the third quarter on the way to a game-high 16 points but felt that defence was the key to victory.

"We got a lot of stops and it fuelled our offence," he said.

"Getting Mitch Creek and guys like that out in transition, it's hard to stop so when we got a couple of easy buckets and we were able to set our defence back up and really lock in and get gritty with it, that's when we started to pull away."

Australia can reach the second round of World Cup qualification with victory over Taiwan at Margaret Court Arena on Sunday.

Australian Associated Press