Boomers edge closer to World Cup after big win
AUSTRALIA have moved one step closer to qualifying for next year's basketball World Cup after defeating Kazakhstan 94-41 in Bendigo.
The Boomers were too powerful for the visitors on Monday night as they took sole possession of top spot in Group F of Asian Zone qualification with a 7-1 win- loss record.
Wins in their next two home qualifiers in November and December would guarantee Australia a top-three finish and a place at the 2019 World Cup in China.
In front of a healthy-size crowd at the newly redeveloped Bendigo Stadium, Melbourne United recruit Mitch McCarron and Victorian Nathan Sobey scored 15 points each, with Daniel Johnson (14) and Nick Kay (13) finishing well under the basket.
The Boomers jumped out to a 16-point lead after one quarter and were never headed, their stifling defence forcing the visitors into 34 turnovers. But it wasn't all smooth sailing for the home side, with big men Matt Hodgson and Angus Brandt forced out of the game in the first half with leg injuries.
After a scrappy opening, the Boomers clicked into gear with Sobey's athleticism on the fast break and McCarron's outside shooting inspiring a 13-0 scoring run to build a 22-6 first-quarter lead.
New Brisbane Bullets signing Hodgson hobbled off late in the first term with a calf complaint and the news soon got worse for Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis when Brandt was carried from the court after rolling his right ankle.
Despite the injuries and some improved offence from Kazakhstan, the Boomers went into halftime ahead 41-19 and with Johnson and Kay filling the centre role, the home side never missed a beat as they rolled through the second half.
AUSTRALIA 94 (N Sobey 15 M Mccarron 15 D Johnson 14) KAZAKHSTAN 41 (D Gavrilov 8 A Zhigulin 7 R Yergali 6) at Bendigo Stadium.