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Boomers, Opals again beat NZ

By AAP .
18 August 2013 09:17PM EST

AUSTRALIA'S men's and women's basketball teams both wrapped their Oceania Basketball Championship series against New Zealand with victories in Canberra on Sunday.

A brutal third quarter blitz from NBA guard Patty Mills has led the Boomers to a come-from-behind 76-63 victory over New Zealand to clinch the Oceania men's basketball championship in Canberra.

The Boomers were down 39-33 at Sunday's main break at AIS Arena, echoing the 39-32 half time deficit they had turned into an 11-point win in Auckland during the first leg on Wednesday.

But once again the Tall Blacks faded in the second half, and San Antonio Spurs guard Mills put his foot on the accelerator to finish with a game-high 21 points and five steals.

"You go back to the basics and it's about defensively trying to disrupt them, that's where we get our energy from," Mills said.

"When we focus defensively, it's crazy how it just flows into our offensive game."

Mills said it took his side a while to warm up and admitted they needed to work on their starts ahead of the World Cup in Spain next year.

"We only came together a week before we actually played so once we get to play with each other for a longer period of time our start of the game will definitely tighten up," he said.

With both teams having already qualified for the World Cup, the stakes weren't as high as the preceding women's Oceania championship match between Australia's victorious Opals and the Tall Ferns.

Yet the trans-Tasman rivalry was heated and no more evident than when Mills was floored by Reuben Te Rangi midway through the third quarter.

The Boomers overcame their six-point halftime deficit immediately after the break, putting on 10 unanswered points to clinch a lead they'd hold for the rest of the clash.

Mills was a huge factor in the turnaround, thrice hitting three-pointers as he racked up 13 points in six minutes to help win the third quarter 28-7.

Joe Ingles also impressed for the home side, finishing the game with 12 points, six assists and four rebounds.

Corey Webster led the scoring for the Tall Blacks with 16 points, while Casey Frank chimed in with 11 points.

Tall Blacks coach Nenad Vucinic said his side needed to address their issue of switching off after half time.

"We collapsed in the third quarter," he said.

"We knew that they would step up defensively and we tried to put some counters on but in the end we started turning the ball over and missing the shots."

Lauren Jackson continue her injury comeback by guiding Australia into next year's world basketball championships in Turkey with an 84-66 win over New Zealand in Canberra.

The trans-Tasman rivals met for the second leg of the Oceania championship at the AIS Arena on Sunday after Australia won the first encounter by 16 points in Auckland mid-week.

Australia, the world No.2, were hot favourites going into the match with a roster that included four players who won bronze at last year's London Olympics and they looked comfortable throughout as they secured the world titles berth on offer.

Superstar Jackson, who starred in Wednesday's win, took a while to warm up in just her second game back since last year's season-ending hamstring injury.

She made just 38 per cent of her shots in the first half for seven points.

But her true class emerged after the main break, finishing the game with a team-high 21 points and seven rebounds.

"I don't think I played well, but I'm feeling good," the Opals co-captain said.

"It's going to take time for me to get back into the flow, but to be honest I feel like this is a good start."

Guard Belinda Snell was superb for the Opals, scoring 17 points alongside four assists and two steals.

The Tall Ferns kept in touch throughout the first two quarters, co-captain Toni Edmondson finishing with a game-high 26 points.

Micaela Cocks also produced for the visitors with 25 points and nine rebounds.

Australia, up 39-34 at half-time, shot out in front at the beginning of the third quarter with 13 straight points.

It mirrored Wednesday's early third quarter blitz when they put on 11 unanswered points.

"There were a lot of nerves in the team and we needed the break to think about what we were doing wrong and how we were going to rectify it," Jackson said.

Tall Ferns coach Kennedy Kerama lamented his side's fade out early in the third quarter.

"We can obviously play two first halves of basketball and match it with the Australian team in that sense," he said.

"But you've got to have more than two players contributing on the offensive end."

The Opals maintained their dominance for the rest of the match, securing a berth at the world championships in Turkey next September.

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