London: Boomers vs China Preview
Read Marc Howard's exclusive preview of the Boomers third Group B game against China on Thursday night.
In some ways, the Boomers real London campaign starts when they take on China on Thursday night Australian time.
Yes, the Boomers have already played two games – losses to Brazil and Spain – but while Brett Brown and his charges certainly would have hoped to get one win out of those two matches, it was always going to be a seriously tough task.
Spain are after all the consensus favourites to challenge the US for the Olympic title in London, while Brazil and their quartet of NBA stars are also tabbed as a legitimate medal contender.
Despite starting 0-2, the Boomers still remain a chance to win the three games they need to finish third in Group B and avoid the likely crossover against the US in the quarter finals stage.
The Boomers need to dust themselves off quickly after their disappointing performance against Spain.
The Spaniards, behind the play of their own NBA stars Pau and Marc Gasol, steamrolled the Boomers after an early start and threatened to inflict a major blow-out on the Australians before a late rally reduced the margin of defeat to just 12 points.
Brown’s men can take some pride in the way they played the game out, and the reduction of the ultimate deficit could in fact prove important if Australia finishes level with other teams in wins and losses at the end of the group stage.
The Boomers did a better job of limiting their turnovers against Spain (just four) but were out-rebounded 56-39 by the Spaniards and once against struggled to connect from the perimeter. They made just 4-of-24 three-pointers, and simply must shoot better if they hope to progress deep into the tournament.
First up however they must take on China, who are themselves 0-2 so far in London and will be hungry for their first win too.
The Chinese lost their opening game of the tournament to Spain 97-81, so if you’re comparing apples with apples the Boomers performed slightly better than China against the Europeans. China then dropped their second pool match to Russia, 74-53.
The Chinese struggled in both their games to get boards, averaging just 27.0 rebounds. The Boomers must ensure they don’t break free on the glass in their game.
China’s key go-to guy is Dallas Mavericks power forward Jianlian Yi. The 212cm Yi has averaged 23.0 points per game thus far in London as well as 9.5 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and 1.5 steals.
That’s about as far as it goes on the Chinese depth chart for offence however as the second leading scorer for China is 215cm centre Zhizhi Wang, who has averaged just 9.0 points per game.
The Boomers must contain Yi as much as possible whilst ensuring none of his supporting cast has a big night.
Brett Brown and his team will be fairly familiar with China, as the two sides played each other in the YouYi Games in Western Australia earlier this year. The Boomers swept that series 3-0 despite the Australian team missing most of their key European players, but China also weren’t at full strength so not too much can be drawn from that result.
What we do know is that China live up to the stereotype for Asian zone teams of being able to shoot from the perimeter. Thus far in the tournament they have made 12-of-29 three-pointers at a very handy 41.4%. Six different players on Team China have connected on triples thus far, so the Boomers will need to make sure they know where the shooters are at all times.
Despite China’s potency from outside, this match presents Australia with the perfect chance to build some momentum towards a run at that third place finish in Group B and is a must-win game for the Boomers. Otherwise, they will face the prospect of needing to win both their remaining games against Great Britain and Russia in order just to qualify for the Finals.
Boomers Keys to Victory
- Throw a tag-team of big units at Jianlian Yi and wear him down by making him have to bang bodies inside;
- Find the Chinese shooters on the perimeter and make them put the ball on the floor if necessary;
- Hit the offensive glass hard and try to generate second shots for the offence;
- Make the extra pass or penetrate the Chinese defence to open up our shooters on the perimeter for open looks;
- Pump the ball inside to David Andersen, Aleks Maric and Aron Baynes to take advantage of size and strength mismatches.