15 - 18
August 2015
Matthew Dellavedova (AUS)
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Delly proves he belongs

CLEVELAND (FIBA Basketball World Cup/2015 FIBA Oceania Championship) - Matthew Dellavedova of Australia had his best game as an NBA player on Thursday night to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers into the Eastern Conference Finals.

A tough-as-nails point guard for the Boomers the past few years, including at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup, Dellavedova had 19 points for the Cavs in their 94-73 Game 6 triumph over the Chicago Bulls.

Delly, not surprisingly, is a trending topic on Twitter in Cleveland, Ohio.

Undrafted in 2013, the former star in American college basketball star with the Saint Mary's Gaels is showing he belongs in the best league in the world.

Joe Ingles, Dellavedova's teammate in the national side, was among the first Australians to hail the 24-year-old's performance against the Bulls.

Dellavedova came up big for Cleveland at just the right time.

Kyrie Irving hurt his knee in the second quarter and had to hit the sidelines for the remainder of the contest.

"Matty can pay," Cleveland coach David Blatt said.

"He understands what his role is and where his opportunities are."

Blatt saw first-hand how good Dellavedova was in 2012 when he coached Russia against the Boomers at the London Olympics.

Australia won that game, 82-80.

He (Dellavedova) has no fear, makes the right plays, defends his man at all times - Blatt

"He knows where the ball should go," Blatt said.

"He feeds off the opportunity that is created for him by the other guys.

"When you ask him to do specific actions, he makes plays.

"That kid's a competitor.

"You're not where he is without being a competitor."

Dellavedova's Cleveland teammates are singing his praises.

LeBron James is normally the player that leads Cleveland in scoring but he struggled in Game 6, making seven of 23 shots from the field and finishing with just 15 points.

Like Blatt, he got his first look at Dellavedova in London three years ago when the USA beat Australia in the Quarter-Finals.

James could not say enough good things about Dellavedova after Thursday's game.

"He grew up playing rugby (actually Australian Rules Football), so you know he's the toughest guy on the team," James said.

He's (Dellavedova) tough as nails - James

"He's just a guy who works extremely hard....If he makes a mistake, you're okay with it because of how hard he plays and how in-tune he is.

"I'm so happy for him. I'm so proud of him."

Last year, Pat Mills and Aron Baynes returned home to Australia and basked in the glow of their NBA Finals triumph after helping San Antonio defeat Miami.

Maybe Dellavedova, who will play for the Boomers at the FIBA Oceania Championship and try to help the team qualify for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, will go back to Australia as NBA champion.

He's certainly living in the moment and enjoying his days in the NBA.