San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Brett Brown and Team Australia have outlasted New Zealand 81-64 in a gripping FIBA Oceania Championship clash to secure their place at the London Olympics with a 2-0 series lead.
The Boomers – who finished fourth at the 1988, 1996 and 2000 Olympics, and finished 7th in Beijing – capitalized on the constant foul trouble of Mika Vukona and Thomas Abercrombie and a 22-9 (18-17) second half rebounding advantage.
Their worked on the boards finally paid dividends midway through the fourth quarter as they unleashed a devastating 28-3 run to finally put space between the two teams.
Brad Newley led a very even Australian performance with 12 points, six rebounds and three assists.
Kirk Penney led the way for New Zealand with 17 points, five rebounds and four assists despite the switching Australian defense swarming on him all night, forcing the Kiwi superstar into a 2-of-10 shooting night.
Game 3 will be played in Sydney on Sunday evening.
Australia have already qualified for the London Olympics, while New Zealand will contest the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament next year.
This is what coach Brown have to say after the game:
“I think it’s relief, satisfaction, pride, a sense of accomplishment with the group. It’s a fantastic group. It’s a fantastic accomplishment, there’s been a lot of work put into this by these guys. I look forward to moving forward with the group I think it’s got a lot of potential. We did it with our defence, we take a lot of pride in being a defensive program first. In games like that if you don’t guard you have no chance.
I take my hat off to that program. Since I took the job I knew we had to beat New Zealand. What they do on the world stage, they are very well organised, they get the most out of their talent, they play hard, I have a lot of time for them. I think our depth did ultimately wear them down.”