Young Boomers top China in overtime in Perth
Australia overcame a sluggish start to force China into overtime and end up winning the opening game of the Sino-Australia Challenge in Perth 97-95.
The youthful Chinese team featured no player aged over 25 and, with all of them currently playing in the Chinese Basketball Association, they controlled the first three-and-a-half quarters at Perth's Challenge Stadium, leading by as many as 15 points before the Boomers came to life.
Trying to impress for a place at the basketball World Cup in Spain starting on August 30, the Boomers had a tremendous finish to regulation time.
Improved full-court defence unsettled the Chinese and then the Australians started making plays at the offensive end led by Melbourne United's Lucas Walker and youngster Brock Motum.
China still led 81-75 with 58 seconds left but Ben Madgen nailed two free-throws and then Walker hit an impressive lay-up on the back of another China turnover.
A superb pass from Rhys Martin then set up Motum to score the game-tying basket.
In overtime, Martin and Madgen scored quickly to put the Boomers up by four points and some cool foul shooting from Madgen, Cameron Gliddon and Martin, and another basket to Motum, allowed the Boomers to win by two.
The players are desperate to impress coach Andrej Lemanis to book a spot in Spain, but with Andrew Bogut, Aron Baynes, Patty Mills, Matthew Dellavedova, Dante Exum, David Andersen, Joe Ingles, David Barlow, Aleks Maric and Brad Newley not in Perth, spots are sparse.
Giant centre Luke Nevill was most impressive when the team was struggling. He played just 17 minutes and finished with 16 points and six rebounds.
Veteran Mark Worthington is likely the lock for the World Cup from this team and worked tirelessly and had nine points and five boards before fouling out in the fourth quarter.
Madgen came to life in overtime and ended up with 17 points while Motum was perhaps the star of the night ending up with 17 points. Walker also scored 15 to go with seven boards.
Lemanis was happy with how his team improved the longer the game went.
"We started as a team who hadn't played a lot together and there was some things that obviously we can work on and get better at," the coach said.
"Waxy (Walker) moving to the four spot really helped us and he did a good job moving them off the bounce. But at the end of the day it was our full-court defence that disrupted their rhythm."
Peng Zhou and Ziao-yu Liu both scored 19 points for China with Quan Gu adding 16 and Qi Zhou 11 to go with 10 rebounds.
The second game is in Perth on Saturday before the challenge shifts to China for two games next week.
Australia 97 (Luke Walker 17, Luke Nevill 16, Ben Madgen 15) China 95 (Peng Zhou 19, Ziao-yu Liu 19, Quan Gu 16) in overtime at Challenge Stadiu