Maker stars, Boomers into Asia Cup final

·2-min read

Champions Australia will take on Lebanon in the FIBA Asia Cup basketball final in Jakarta, after Boomers centre Thon Maker came up big in clutch moments in the 85-76 semi-final win over New Zealand.

The Tall Blacks cut a 16-point Australia second-quarter lead to two with just over three and a half minutes remaining on Saturday after a four-point play from Kruz Perrott-Hunt.

Maker then hit a clutch three-pointer and two more treys from William McDowell-White slammed the door shut on the Tall Blacks

Lebanon, who have reached the tournament final on three occasions, but never won it, then squeezed out a 86-85 victory over Jordan to set up Sunday's showdown against the Boomers.

Jordan had centre Mohammad Hussein ejected in the second quarter of their semi.

Maker, who had a relatively quiet first half against the Tall Blacks, finished with 18 points and nine rebounds, maintaining his consistent strong form at the tournament.

He stopped another Tall Blacks run in the third quarter, when he scored seven points in 44 seconds, after New Zealand had slashed a 12-point Boomers lead to five late in the third quarter

Impressive McDowell-White scored 15, nailing four of seven three-point attempts, and added seven assists.

Fellow guards Tyrese Proctor and Mitch McCarron each tallied 13 points and forward Keanu Pinder 11.

The Boomers again struggled from the free throw line making just seven of 13 while New Zealand hit all seven of their attempts .

Although the Tall Blacks shaded the rebound count by two, Australia scored more second chance points by capitalising on their offensive boards.

"We were able to outlast (New Zealand) at the end," acting Boomers coach Mike Kelly said.

"I thought our guys did a really good job of taking care of the ball and getting good looks on offence."

New Zealand led 5-2 early but Australia asserted themselves as the opening quarter progressed and were up 23-19 after one.

With Pinder making big plays at both ends and McCarron stepping up offensively, Australia were 12 up at halftime and led by a similar margin at three-quarter time.

Big men Jordan Hunt and Sam Timmins each scored 16 for New Zealand and guard Flynn Cameron contributed 15.

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