Breakout performances from rising stars Tyrese Proctor and Keanu Pinder helped the Boomers avoid a major boilover, posting a comfortable 76-52 win over Saudi Arabia in their second Asia Cup clash.
Saudi Arabia, ranked 80th in the world, gave the Boomers an almighty scare before the Australians rallied.
The West Asia nation led by as many as six points in the second period as the Boomers struggled in offence, shooting just 23 per cent from the field.
Thankfully, the Australians steadied to surge to a commanding win to remain undefeated at the Asia Cup.
Former NBA forward Thon Maker led the way for the Boomers on the box score with 16 points, six rebounds and two assists.
Maker wasn’t the story on this occasion, though, as two emerging Boomers in Proctor (15 points) and Pinder (13 points) stole the show.
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Here is what we learnt from the win:
1. Proctor’s potential
Sydney’s Tyrese Proctor has arrived as a senior international player.
The 18-year-old guard, who will play with Duke University in 2023, was scintillating for the Boomers with a potent display of athleticism and skill.
Proctor looked timid at stages in his first Asia Cup game versus Jordan, but he exploded against Saudi Arabia on the offensive end.
The future NBA draft prospect had 15 points, including three of six from range, while he added three rebounds in just 17 minutes off the bench.
Proctor has the ability to play at the highest level, and this Asia Cup campaign for the Boomers could prove pivotal in his young career.
2. Pinder the X-factor
After sitting out Australia’s opening win over Jordan, Cairns Taipans forward Keanu Pinder responded in style with a brilliant display against Saudi Arabia.
Pinder, the NBL’s Most Improved Player, produced an eye-catching performance.
The highlight came in the second quarter when the Taipans star finished off a brilliant lob pass from Boomers guard William McDowell-White.
Pinder leapt in the air before tipping the ball into the basket with one outstretched arm.
The beautiful display of athleticism had the commentators glowing in praise.
Watch for Pinder to grow in confidence as the Asia Cup campaign progresses.
Pinder finished with 13 points, six rebounds and three assists in an impressive effort.
3. McCarron the man
Mitch McCarron continues to showcase his impressive consistency on the international stage.
The Adelaide 36ers skipper is a natural-born leader, which is why he has been named captain for this Asia Cup campaign.
McCarron’s composure and class on display against Saudi Arabia. He stuffed the stat sheet with 10 points, five rebounds and three assists.
More importantly, the 36ers guard took charge when the Australians looked sluggish in the first quarter, dropping key shots while his defence was rock solid.
McCarron, 30, personifies the Boomers’ selfless culture and is the perfect man to lead this emerging Australian team around the court.
4. Froling belongs
Illawarra Hawks forward Sam Froling continues to excel donning the green and gold.
Froling looked a class above against Saudi Arabia, using his athleticism and size to dominate in the paint.
The Hawks star finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and one assist.
Froling is destined for a big Asia Cup campaign, which will be the perfect preparation for the upcoming 2023 NBL season.
5. Steindl injury concern
The Boomers could be without forward Clint Steindl moving forward after the Tasmania JackJumper suffered an ankle injury against Saudi Arabia.
Steindl limped off the court in the first half after rolling on his ankle while driving to the basket.
Hopefully, the injury isn’t serious, because the Boomers will need his three-point shooting as the tournament progresses.
Thon makes hay as son of AFL gun shines for Boomers
A dominant display from former NBA forward Thon Maker has helped the Boomers open their Asia Cup campaign in style with a comfortable 78-60 win over Jordan in Jakarta.
The ex-Milwaukee, Detroit and Cleveland star produced a powerful performance, dropping a game-high 23 points and adding eight rebounds, two assists and one block.
Maker’s brilliance is ominous for the rest of the teams in the Asia Cup. The former NBA big man means business and so do Australia as they look to claim consecutive Asia Cup gold medals after winning the tournament in 2017.
Here is what we learnt from the Boomers’ opening Asia Cup victory:
1. Mature Maker’s NBA shot
Maker has emerged as a real leader within the Boomers ranks and deserves another shot in the NBA. In fact, a strong performance at this year’s Asia Cup could help him secure a deal in the world’s best league.
Maker showed the way forward for a young Boomers side with his aggressive approach, especially in the opening quarter.
He went after the contest by attacking the rim, protecting the paint, and shooting from range.
Maker looks like he is relishing in his leadership role in a Boomers side without experienced stars like Matthew Dellavedova, Patty Mills and Joe Ingles.
The 25-year-old is clearly an NBA-calibre player, so hopefully a strong Asia Cup campaign can help him impressive franchises to earn a roster spot.
2. Next generation Boomers shine
The Boomers’ future production line was on show against Jordan, with a cast of rising stars all proving that they belong on the big stage.
Melbourne United development player David Okwera was impressive for Australia, particularly in the first half.
The 210cm forward had five points, three rebounds, two assists and two blocks.
Illawarra Hawks forward Sam Froling also excelled for the Boomers.
Froling had 16 points and eight rebounds in a performance that reeked of class.
Speaking of class, guard William McDowell-White continued his impressive form from the World Cup qualifiers in Melbourne.
McDowell-White, who will play for the New Zealand Breakers in NBL23, stuffed the stat sheet with seven points, seven assists, four rebounds and two steals.
The son of three-time AFL premiership player Darryl White, McDowell-White received high praise from Boomers veteran Joe Ingles for his diligent display.
“Will McDowell-White just plays the right way,” Ingles tweeted.
Future NBA draft prospect Tyrese Proctor struggled at stages, but persevered and will only get better with more game time.
The 18-year-old Sydney guard had four points and two assists in his 20 minutes on the floor.
3. Defence king under Kelly
There is no Brian Goorjian in the coach’s box, but it appears Australia’s defensive foundations won’t change under Asia Cup coach Mike Kelly.
The Boomers were dominant without the ball against Jordan, restricting their rivals to just 26 first-half points.
Australia also gave away just one foul in the first half – a testament to the team’s discipline.
On the offensive end, the Boomers looked calm and confident. The Australians had 16 assists in the first half, and despite a sluggish third quarter, they had enough strike power to surge to a comfortable win.
4. Vague the three-point assassin
Four-time NBL champion Rhys Vague could loom as a go-to player from beyond the arc throughout the Asia Cup campaign.
The former Perth Wildcat who now plies his trade in Japan had eight points, including two of four from range.
Tasmania JackJumpers forward Clint Steindl also impressed with eight points.
5. Only Boomers can beat themselves
The Boomers dominated in the first half, but they dropped off in the third quarter to open the door for Jordan.
The Australians played sloppy hoops in the third, with too many turnovers, poor shooting options and lazy defence.
This allowed Jordan to reduce the Boomers’ lead to 15 points after restricting Australia to just eight points in the third quarter.
Australia is clearly a cut above the opposition at the Asia Cup, but they can’t afford to beat themselves with basic errors and poor attitude.
BOOMERS SQUAD FOR ASIA CUP
Alex Ducas, Sam Froling, Thon Maker, Mitch McCarron, Sam McDaniel, Will McDowell-White, David Okwera, Keanu Pinder, Tyrese Proctor, Clint Steindl, Wani Swaka Lo Buluk and Rhys Vague
Originally published as Basketball 2022: All the latest news from the three Asia Cup qualifiers in Indonesia