In their final stretch of preparations before the 2023 FIBA World Cup, Australia leaned on Josh Giddey in the clutch to turn back France, 78-74, in a friendly match in Japan.
Josh Giddey threaded a needle for a terrific bounce pass to Nick Kay to go up one with a little over 90 seconds left. He then snatched a rebound away from Rudy Gobert in the final minute to ultimately give Australia the extra possession to take the lead for good.
OKC Thunder fans should be thrilled with the new skills Josh Giddey flashed at the FIBA World Cup.
Giddey finished with a team-high 12 points but struggled from the field throughout the game after going 4-of-14 as his on-ball reps continue to increase with his national team.
The OKC Thunder’s rising star also had six rebounds, five assists, three steals, and one block in a physical outing that saw him take six free throws and drain four.
Giddey has shown a solid improvement in foul drawing in these World Cup warmup games, averaging about 6.0 free throw attempts per game, a massive increase from his close to 2 attempts from the charity stripe in the past season.
Josh Giddey helped win this for the Boomers in the clutch, but the number of free throw attempts is the big story for OKC Thunder fans. Every year in the NBA, we see plays take leaps into new scoring tiers, and it usually correlates to more trips to the charity stripe.
If Giddey can use his near 6’9 frame to draw contact and force refs to blow the whistle, it can unlock a new gear for the third-year guard.
Meanwhile, newly-acquired Thunder Jack White produced six points on 2-of-3 shooting and a single rebound playing as a small-ball big man for the Boomers that recently lost Jock Landale to a foot injury.
The small-ball minutes of Jack White could go down as one of the most crucial stretches of not just the Boomers in the World Cup but also for the potentialities of his fit for the OKC Thunder.
Nick Kay, playing off the passing brilliance of Giddey, also racked up 12 markers on 4-of-6 shooting and five rebounds. Patty Mills, Dante Exum, and Duop Reath added 11 points each in a balanced outing for Australia.
Evan Fournier caught fire for France with 29 points, while Rudy Gobert posted nine markers and eight boards.
The FIBA World Cup will start on August 25, with Australia playing in Group E alongside Finland, Germany, and host Japan.