Boomers rout Iran to clinch World Cup spot
Things were close in the opening minutes, with Iran keeping in-step with the hosts, 8-all, but the Boomers broke the game open and led, 24-16, at the end of the first quarter.
It was all Australia from then as coach Andrej Lemanis's wards took full advantage of the absences of several key players from Iran's fifth window roster. Australia outscored Iran in the paint, 44-16, exploiting the latter's hole in the middle resulting from Iran's top frontliners - Hamed Haddadi and Arsalan Kazemi - missing the game due to injury.
This result officially advances Australia into the FIBA Basketball World Cup in China next year, and they are the first Asian Qualifiers team to do so.
With a 29 point victory over Iran, the Australian Boomers have officially qualified for the @FIBAWC!— Basketball Australia (@BasketballAus) November 30, 2018
24 different Boomers have helped us get to this point, but we still have a long way to go!
Bring on China 2019.
🇦🇺 76 - 47 🇮🇷 #GoBoomers #FIBAWC #ThisIsMyHouse pic.twitter.com/3xLDzt4mfZ
Daniel Johnson led the Boomers with 12 points while Mitch McCarron added 11 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists.
Iran were paced by Behnam Yakhchali and Mohammad Hassanzadeh with a combined 22 points.
This was Australia's eighth win in nine games, and coach Lemanis was relieved that they finally got the job done.
"It's been a grind," Lemanis said. "It's nice to get it done now. That was the endgame - to secure a spot in 2019. It's a relief, and I'm very proud of the team and the players."
28-year-old guard Nathan Sobey concurred with his head coach, mentioning the magnitude of this achievement while also recognizing that there are still games to be played in the Asian Qualifiers.
"It's an awesome achievement, and we can finally take it off our shoulders," said the veteran guard. "But we will still focus on one game at a time. We know that we can still learn from our experiences in the next games."