Cooks stars as Boomers beat Japan for crucial Cup win


The Boomers' basketball World Cup campaign is back on track, Xavier Cooks setting the tone in a 109-89 defeat of Japan that sealed their path to the second round.

A shock loss to Germany on Sunday meant the world No.3 had to beat the hosts in Okinawa to avoid dropping into the classification for places 17 and below.

Reigning NBL MVP Cooks ensured that was never likely, dominating around the rim with 24 points and 14 rebounds off the bench as the Boomers notched their highest-ever World Cup total.

"You win a medal (at the Tokyo Olympics), first medal in history of this region and then you lose one game by a basket (to Germany) and you come in to tonight and it's like you're coaching and playing for your life," coach Brian Goorjian reflected after the high-stakes encounter.

They'll need to beat superstar Luka Doncic's Slovenia, who they beat for bronze in Tokyo, and most likely Georgia in the next stage beginning on Friday to reach the quarter-finals.

If New Zealand lose to Greece on Wednesday it will also mean Australia secures qualification for next year's Olympics as the highest-finishing Oceania team.

Elevated to the starting line-up instead of Matisse Thybulle, Josh Green (15 points, four steals) proved a powerful spark plug to ensure no repeat of their slow starts against Finland and Germany.

He had an early four-point play and was a menace in defence and transition, helping Josh Giddey (26 points, 11 assists) and Duop Reath score freely.

Joe Ingles (five points, four rebounds, four assists) added his silky touch as the Tokyo Olympic bronze medallists assisted on nine of their 11 first-quarter baskets and 31 in total.

After scoring the side's first 13 points against Germany, Patty Mills (11 points, nine assists) didn't open his account until the Boomers had 37. 

They led 57-35 at half-time, outscoring Japan in the paint 40-10.

Japan doubled their score with a 35-point third term as the game opened up and the full house lifted.

Naturalised American Josh Hawkinson (33 points, seven rebounds) kept attacking for Japan and found support in Mills' former Brooklyn NBA teammate Yuta Watanabe (24 points).

But 20-year-old Giddey came again with a pair of calming lay-ups and a three-pointer as the lead never got lower than 13 points down the stretch.

"For our success, the small ball, the switching, the defence; the blueprint was the first half," Goorjian said.

"We're going through evolution; some guys get spit out, some get moved in.

"And three big pieces tonight (Giddey, Cooks, Green) ... make this thing really exciting for tonight and the future."