Todd Blanchfield’s masterclass has helped Australia finish their men’s World Cup Asian qualifying campaign with a convincing 98-53 victory over Kazakhstan in Melbourne.
Coming off a difficult NBL season with Perth, Blanchfield, who top-scored against Bahrain three days earlier, proved too much for Kazakhstan at the State Basketball Centre on Sunday.
The veteran swingman knocked down seven three-pointers in his 31-point haul, the best by a Boomer since Patty Mills famously poured in 42 points against Slovenia to secure Australia’s bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
Guard Kyle Adnam chimed in with 20 points as Australia topped Group F with an 11-1 record – their only loss a forfeit when they didn’t travel to Iran under government advice.
Meanwhile, Kazakhstan finished second-last with a 5-7 record, their 12-point loss to China in Hong Kong last Thursday effectively eliminating them from the World Cup race.
Reserve forward Ruslain Aitkali (12 points at 63 per cent) impressed for the tourists, who matched the Aussies early but came undone by a horrific turnover count, 20 of their 28 coming before halftime.
Behind their disruptive, aggressive defence, the hosts got the early jump but their wayward shooting allowed Kazakhstan to close the gap to 26-22 midway through the second term.
Boomers coach Dean Vickerman had seen enough and called a time-out.
His charges responded with an 18-0 burst, capped by Dan Grida’s dunk as Kazakhstan fell apart on offence.
Starting guards Oleg Balashov and Rustam Murzagaliyev were the worst offenders, combining for five points and 14 turnovers.
Blanchfield caught fire with 16 third-quarter points in six minutes as Australia outscored Kazakhstan 33-11 to stretch their 46-27 halftime cushion to 79-38 at three-quarter-time.
Adnam got cooking in the fourth and Adelaide 36ers development player Nick Marshall, with a steal and dunk, scored his first points as a Boomer as Australia coasted to the finish line.