Boomers sneak home over Tall Blacks
THE Nick Kay-inspired Boomers busted themselves out of jail in the fourth quarter to snatch a nailbiting 79-73 victory over New Zealand in Cairns on Saturday night.
But regardless of the result in the tense trans-Tasman tussle, the race for the men's basketball gold medal is wide open as the Tall Blacks gave the home nation a mighty fright in the full dress rehearsal for Sunday's (April 15) final.
Australia had led for just 15 seconds in the second term before power forward Kay hit a three-pointer to put the Boomers in front again midway through the final quarter.
Two buckets to guard Chris Goulding helped Australia's cause in the dying stages while a steal from the recently crowned Larry Sengstock Medallist also set-up a thundering Kay dunk.
Kay - who topscored with 21 points - then stepped up and hit another triple to get the Boomers home.
With no Mitch Creek and no Mitch McCarron - who were integral parts of the domestic Boomers squad before taking up European deals - Australia struggled to get any sort of control against a determined New Zealand side.
Boomers legend Andrew Gaze was certainly on the money earlier in the week when he said New Zealand presented a very serious threat to Australia's hope of saluting on home soil.
The gold medal is now an even money bet.
It was a tight and physical affair befitting of a battle for a medal.
It also showed how the Boomers and Tall Blacks are light years ahead of the rest of the Commonwealth Games competition.
The intent from the Tall Blacks flowed on from the pre-match haka with New Zealand scoring the first five points of the match.
They controlled proceedings for most of the opening term until two late three-pointers from the Boomers closed the margin with New Zealand up 21-19 at the first break.
Daniel Kickert added 12 points for the Boomers while Goulding finished with 10 points. Shae Ili led the Tall Blacks with 22 points.
Australia play their final pool match against Nigeria on Monday when New Zealand will also take on Canada.
In other results on Saturday, Canada scored a 82-67 win over Nigeria in Cairns while England cruised to a 100-54 victory over India with Scotland edging to a 62-52 win over Cameroon in Townsville.
Meanwhile, the Opals will play Canada in Townsville on Sunday night.