Andrew Bogut was theatrically booed by the Chinese crowd as Australia turned to an unlikely source to clinch a roller-coaster basketball World Cup-opening 108-92 win against Canada.
The Boomers led by 17 points approaching halftime but soon trailed as a rampant Canada scored 16 consecutive points either side of the break.
It was bench spark Chris Goulding (16 points at 87 per cent shooting), having already dropped seven points in the first quarter, who returned to stop the rot as the Boomers steadied and pulled away in Sunday’s final term in Dongguan.
Matthew Dellavedova (24 points) found range with his new-look jump shot in a shared offensive display, while Canadian trio Cory Joseph (16 points), Kevin Pangos (14) and high-flying Khem Birch (18) did their best.
Joe Ingles had 13 points and 10 assists, while Patty Mills added 15 and six. Six Boomers scored 10 or more points.
The win sets up Australia nicely in a tough pool, likely needing just one more win against either Senegal or world No.6 Lithuania later this week to progress to the second round.
Bogut (12 points, eight rebounds) played his part in a surprise subplot, welcomed onto the court with a chorus of boos that continued whenever he touched the ball until the final whistle.
Always outspoken on social media, the Sydney Kings’ centre was inundated by Chinese trolls after last month weighing into the Sun Yang and Mack Horton swimming feud.
Bogut cheekily sent a welcome message to his ‘‘Chinese fans’’ when the team left Australia – and they were out in force to do just that.
Amid the jeers, Goulding did the early moving, dropping seven points on perfect shooting in the first quarter.
The Boomers shot at 64 per cent from the field in that term, with Goulding’s late triple giving them a 29-20 lead at the first break.
That was a margin they slowly increased in the second term with points coming through Mills and Jock Landale, while Bogut copped another verbal serve as he finished a one-handed alley-oop.
The Boomers were able to absorb Canada’s best hit, producing crucial stops early in the fourth quarter before Dellavedova shot Australia to a hard-earned win.