POSTED: 9:12 a.m. HST, Aug 8, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 3:55 p.m. HST, Aug 8, 2011
Dongguan, China >> Some highlight-reel action and about three quarters of solid play weren't enough to give the Hawaii men's basketball team a victory over Team Australia in the opening game of UH's Warriors to Asia tour on Monday night.
Freshman point guard Shaquille Stokes scored all of his 17 points in the first half and UH earned a 10-point lead in the third quarter, only to squander it by the end of the period and see the Aussies rally for an 80-70 win.
UH forwards Hauns Brereton, Joston Thomas and Trevor Wiseman added 12 points each.
The Rainbow Warriors — with only nine players suited up — were slowed by lack of depth. At the end, Australia capitalized on turnovers to pull away.
It was the first real game together for most of this year's team. Stokes and Miles made some pretty passes, though UH's perimeter game needed work. A big reason: UH's leading scorer from last season, senior guard Zane Johnson, did not play as he is recovering from an ankle sprain.
Australia, made up mostly of Aussies who play college ball in the USA, went on a 16-2 run over the last 6 minutes to go from six points down to eight points up. Though not highly skilled, Australia had size and baited UH into a number of bad fouls, which ultimately swung the game.
Both teams used the game as a tune-up for later matchups. UH will play five games against professional teams over the next two weeks and Australia is prepping for competition in the World University Games in nearby Shenzhen.
The teams played by FIBA international rules, for the most part, under the watch of three Chinese referees. The biggest things UH had to adjust to were a 24-second shot clock and 10-minute quarters. Players couldn't foul out.
"For a scrimmage, I thought it was a really good team to play off the bat," UH coach Gib Arnold said. "They were really physical, they played together for a long time, been in a number of tournaments this summer. I really thought, for 35 minutes of that game, we played some pretty good basketball. I thought we outplayed them.
"Just ran out of gas. Those last 5 minutes were really tough on us. ... But overall, definitely a lot of good things."
One of them was a first-half alley-oop lob on the fast break from Stokes off the glass to a trailing Thomas, who slammed it home with two hands.
"We showed a lot of things we could do, offensively and defensively," Stokes said. "I feel like we gave the game away. There's still a lot of things we need to work on. It was a learning experience for us."
The flashy lob — call it UH's East Coast connection — had the bench up and cheering and gave the dozen UH boosters in attendance a memorable moment.
"When his head is right, he's a monster," Stokes said of Thomas. "I knew he could go get it, like a big brother."
UH continues play with another practice game on Tuesday morning against Team Brazil, coached by UH assistant Walter Roese. Then the team buses to Shenzhen and flies north to Shanghai for the next leg of the tour.