In this morning’s Age,
Martin Blake describes
Australia’s loss to New Zealand in the four
game Ramsay Shield basketball series as “embarrassing”. And when you
look at
the stats, you can see why he would say that: last night’s win was only
New Zealand’s sixth win in 54 matches against the Boomers, the fifth
coming in game two of the series.

Although the series was drawn 2-2, New Zealand were told late yesterday that the overall winner would be decided
on aggregate points. Boomers coach Brian Goorjian claimed he had “no idea” the
series would be decided that way. Leading the series 2-1, a win last night
would have sealed the series for the Aussies, but they lost the game 71-79, a
total of 24 points behind New Zealand after four games (the 53-72 loss in game
two doing most of the damage). The Ramsay Shield now heads across the Tasman
for only the second time; the first was in 2001.

For the Aussies, the loss comes despite the
presence of Andrew Bogut, the Milwaukee Bucks centre-man who performed under
physical duress for the final two games. A gastric infection had Bogut on an IV
drip before Monday’s game in Hobart, and he was on the drip again before last night’s game. But it
didn’t stop him contributing, scoring 18 points (including four dunks) and nine
rebounds.

It wasn’t enough. The Boomers were ahead by
two (71-69) with over three minutes left, but the Tall Blacks played a spirited
yet controlled final few minutes. As you’d expect, the NZ media is upbeat about
the win.

“In scoring the
last ten points of the game, the Tall Blacks had produced a defining performance
under pressure,” Newswire.co.nz comments this morning. “Although they needed a points countback to take the trophy, in
retrospect, they had dominated most of the series. The Tall Blacks had a chance
to win in overtime of the opening exchange, absolutely dominated Game Two,
should have taken Game Three and duly prevailed in the final shootout.”

For the Boomers and
their new coach, it may not be panic stations yet, but ahead of the World
Championships in Japan through August and September this year, there
is plenty of work to be done.

Peter Fray

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