The Australian Boomers have clinched their second consecutive FIBA Asia Basketball Cup with a 75-73 win over Lebanon in Jakarta this morning.
Despite the Australians holding a 16-point advantage halfway through the second quarter, they had to wait until the final buzzer to claim the title.
Lebanon clawed their way back in the second half to trail by just one, after a three-pointer from captain Wael Arajki. The Cedars had the chance to steal victory when Rhys Vague missed his second free throw, but a half-court heave from Ali Haidar on the buzzer was off target.
Thon Maker capped off his stellar Asian Cup campaign, winning the TCL Player of the Game. The number 10 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft scored 14 points, to accompany his eight rebounds and three blocks.
Adelaide 36er Mitch McCarron and Australia’s next potential NBA star Tyrese Proctor were the other Boomers to reach double digits.
For the Cedars, captain Arakji was superb, putting up a game high 28 points, along with seven rebounds and five assists. Meanwhile, Haidar was dominant with 23 points and nine rebounds.
Maker, McCarron and Arakji all made the All-Star five for the tournament, with the latter also taking out the MVP. The Cedars guard was instrumental in his country’s campaign, averaging 26 points per match.
Acting Boomers coach Mike Kelly said that although the momentum shifted in the final quarter, they had done enough in the first three quarters to hold on.
“[Basketball] comes down to being able to make shots, make free throws, and they did that better than us in the fourth and we had built up enough interest in the first three quarters to cash that out in the fourth, and hang tough,” Kelly said.
The Boomers will next take to the court against Bahrain in the World Cup qualifiers.
PHOTO: Basketball Hoop in Basketball Court by Markus Spiske available HERE and used under a Creative Commons licence. This photo has not been modified.