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Gallant Boomers go down to might of USA
9 August 2012

Australia couldn’t come up with the stunning upset win over the star-studded USA that our players would have been able to dine out on forever, but at least they gave it a crack.

Our men’s basketball team, the Boomers, didn’t go into their Olympic quarterfinal against the Americans fearing reputations, and once out there they didn’t stand around like traffic cops waving the team full of NBA stars through.

They had a red-hot go, which is all we can ask of them.

The USA won 119-86, and the Boomers will obviously be very disappointed with that result, because they are competitors. It was a chance to get into the medal stage by winning, and they won’t make the excuse of saying it was against the Americans, so they were expected to lose.

Of course it was always going to be a mountain to climb, against the likes of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul and company, but if you don’t think you can climb the mountain you shouldn’t be out there.

 The Aussies went in with the right attitude. They had a plan to play the game at the fast pace that suited them, and take their shots. Back-to-back three-pointers from Patty Mills were a blast early, because they gave the Aussies the lead, 8-5.

The biggest problem for Australia in the first quarter wasn’t the Americans, it was their own shooting. They created plenty of opportunities, but missed a lot of simple finishes. They also missed far too many free throws, and you just can’t afford to give the USA a leg-up like that.

After the Aussies trailed by seven points at the end of the first term, the second quarter became a battle for them to stay in touch. The USA had increased their intensity, and were putting serious heat on their rivals.

It became very difficult for the Boomers as the lead got out to 16 points, but at such a critical point of the game they refused to lie down.

That said a lot about the character of Australia’s team, who managed to keep the deficit to 14 points going to halftime, but not as much as their explosive start to the third quarter did. Now that was something special.

Boomers coach Brett Brown must have said all the right things at halftime, and the players must have come back out with an attitude that this was it, they had to do something special straight away if they were to make the game a contest again, because Australia scored the first 11 points.

Joe Ingles and Mills were the destroyers during that period, with six and five points respectively, and suddenly the Boomers were just three points down, 56-53. But the thing about playing a team like the USA is that it never stops being hard.

They are able to keep wheeling out cannons to fire at you, and, after being poked and prodded by the Aussies, the USA stirred. The Boomers kept competing, but were down by 14 points again, 84-70, by the end of the third quarter.

It’s when the game finally gets out of your reach – when you know the lead is too big and there’s not nearly enough time left on the clock – that it becomes that most massive of challenges, and the Aussies were staring that in the face by midway through the final quarter.

The USA went from 96-80 to 109-80 in what seemed like the twinkling of an eye – Bryant joining in on the fun with a couple of three-point shots – and the Americans finished off in style from there.

Greg Prichard at North Greenwich Arena

Thriller sees Boomers through to quarters
6 August 2012
Australia’s Matt Nielsen (2nd L) goes up to score against Russia during their me… © Sergio Perez/Getty ImagesBASKETBALL: The Australian men’s basketball team believe they can pull off a monumental upset by beating the USA in the Olympic quarter-finals.

The Boomers finished the preliminary rounds in great style on Day 10, with main man Patty Mills draining a three-point shot just ahead of time expiring to give them an 82-80 win over Russia at the Basketball Arena.

The Aussies are now set to play the star-studded USA team, which includes Kobe Bryant and LeBron James in their ranks, in the quarters on Day 12.

After beating the Russians, Australian players and coach Brett Brown displayed a very positive attitude about the task ahead.

Asked if the Aussies could beat the Americans, Joe Ingles said: “For sure. We believe we can win every game. We’re going to play our style of game and see what happens. I believe we can do something, and we’ll see what happens on Wednesday.”

Matt Nielsen added: “The plan is to win. We’re not going out there to lose. We’re going to roll it out there. We’ve got good momentum. We feel good about ourselves. We’re going to give it a good crack and try to put pressure on them.

“We just beat the unbeaten team in our pool and I don’t think we played that well. We’ve got a game plan and we feel confident with it.”

Mills said there had been a great feeling among the team ever since they arrived in London. The Boomers lost their first two games, but have powered on with three straight wins since then.

“There is a different feeling, a different vibe, and everyone has said that since we started this campaign,” he said. “There is a great belief in this team about our ability to reach our goal, and our goal is still there to be reached.

“It’s all about believing in ourselves, and in this next game we have to believe we can win. This is what the Olympics is about. We’re going into the next game with all we’ve got. It’s exciting, up against the US in the quarter-finals of the Olympic Games. I mean, yeah.”

Brown said the Aussies would go in with the attitude that they can pull off the basketball upset to end all upsets.

“Of course you do,” he said. “You compete to be in this position, to get this opportunity. This is special, and we don’t take it for granted. Our confidence is because we don’t cut corners. We look forward to it.”

Australia were down 80-79 with 4.1 seconds left against the Russians, and after coming back from a timeout Mills ended up with the ball and made a sensational shot to get the win and bring the house down.

Australia led 46-45 at halftime. They had led by as much as nine points in the first half, while the Russians had never been in front by more than two.

The scoring had been spread around, with Ingles leading on 11 followed by Matt Dellavedova on 10. Dellavedova, 21, is developing tremendously well at this tournament and shapes as an important member of the team for the next decade.

David Andersen, who has been a key man at times during the campaign with his three-point shooting, had nine points at the half. Andersen had been on target with three of five shots from outside the arc.

The most important first-half statistic for the Aussies was to do with their shooting. They had made 16 of 31 shots for a percentage of 52. In their first couple of games here their shooting simply hadn’t been good enough, but they picked up in their win over Great Britain and kept it up early here.

Australia were successful with seven of their 13 three-point attempts in the first half. Dellavedova made two from two, Mills one from two and Ingles one from three.

Russia came out strongly in the third quarter, and halfway through it they led by five points. But then Inglis came up with back-to-back baskets – a three and a two – to level the scores at 57-57. Ingles led the scoring on the day, with 20.

Russia kept fighting, but the Aussies kept coming up with big plays to stay a step ahead of them as the quarter wore on.

Brad Newley was successful with a three-point shot to make it 67-64 to Australia with 90 seconds left in the term, and then Nielsen came up with his first points of the game – a two – to push the lead out to five.

Russia cut that lead to three points, 71-68, early in the fourth quarter. The two teams traded a few missed shots after that as both defended very physically. Australia then turned the ball over, allowing for the Russians to race away and set up a dunk.

That cut Australia’s lead to just one, but Mills quickly responded with a two-pointer for a 73-70 lead. The Aussies then got a couple of important defensive stops before Newley was fouled in the act of shooting. Newley made both free throws to give the Boomers a 75-70 lead.

The play was going from end to end in a hurry, and there was a succession of missed shots from both sides before Andersen made a tip-in to give Australia a 77-70 lead with 5min 18sec left.

Australia led by six points, 79-73, just inside the final three minutes. Russia cut that back to 79-75 with two free throws, and then 79-78 just inside the two-minute mark

The Boomers were under pressure to find the plays to close the game out, but got some key rebounds off their own misses. They still couldn’t score though, and the Russians got the ball with 24 seconds left.

The Aussies fouled, leaving Russia’s Vitaliy Fridzon with two free throws with just 4.1 seconds left. He made both, putting Russia in front, 80-79.

But then Mills came along to blow the Russians away.  

Greg Prichard


Magic Mills monsters Brits
5 August 2012
The Australian men’s basketball team have put up a tough battle against home team Great Britain tonight to finish 106-75, in easily the best come back of the 2012 basketball competition after trailing by 10 points at half time.

The Brits got off to a strong lead, putting six points on the board before the Aussies even got close to the net. A defensive rebound to Australian David Andersen moments later however saw the 6 foot 11 forward notch up two points inside the paint and get the Aussies in the game.

Great Britain had established a 25 – 18 lead at quarter-time and they went into the next quarter confident and dominant making the Australians work to stay in the game. The Boomers just couldn’t quite pull their A-game together and by the end of the first half were trailing by 10.

Whatever coach Brett Brown said to the team at half time showed from the outset of the third quarter. The Boomers worked as a cohesive group setting up smart plays and shooting clean consistent goals. But it was star player patty Mills that came to life and started to save the day for the Aussies.

 With just under six minutes left in the third quarter, Mills shone with two points off an Ingles assist and after drawing a foul from Briton Andrew Lawrence, converted to bring Australia equal to their rivals for the first time in the game, tying at 53 a piece. A 3-pointer to 21-year-old Matthew Dellavedova just after saw the Boomers take the lead, a trend they would maintain for the remainder of the quarter, courtesy of some Mills magic at the free throw line.

With a six point lead and 10 minutes to hold onto it, the Boomers played hard and fast in the last quarter with Mills landing an impressive shot for three points and then executing a series of smart, playful moves that had the Brits running circles.

"It felt great, we’ve been getting better each game in this tournament and that is what it is really all about," Mills said.

"We kind of put things all together in that game and that is what we need to do on this big of a stage."

The Boomers ran away with the game, scoring 18 points before the Brits got any as the home side lost the control and precision they had showed in the first half of the match.

"I think it is just our fitness basically," Mills explained of the runaway game. "We pride ourselves on being the fittest team here and defensively being tough and I think we put those together and at the end of the game we just had more legs."

At full time, the Aussies had scored their second win of the London Games. Mills top scored with 39 points and also notched up five rebounds and two assists.

"It felt good shooting the ball out there," Mills said. "The first few games it didn’t feel as great but we put it all together and we started to shoot the ball better."

The win secures them a quarter-finals berth as they are placed fourth in the pool with Russia remaining to play.

Alice Wheeler in London

Boomers outclass China for first win
3 August 2012
Australia celebrates their 81-61 victory over China following their Men’s Basket… © Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesBASKETBALL: The Boomers have got their Olympic campaign back on track after a strong 20 point victory over China, 81-61.

Having lost their opening two matches against Brazil and Spain, the Aussies knew they had to record their first win before their quest for the first

Australian men’s basketball medal came to an end prior to the finals stage.

Having finished the first quarter trailing by one, the Boomers claimed a dominant 49-33 halftime lead. The Chinese got the lead back to eight with a quarter to go but the Boomers accelerated away with a 20-9 final quarter and a strong victory.

“We played two decent games and had some small bad patches in those games,” said Joe Ingles, who scored 13 points.

“We came out strong today and started the second half a little slow but we weathered that and moved on.”

The Boomers began slowly as the Chinese started to get in a shooting rhythm to take a 18-10 lead. The deficit woke the Aussies up as big man David Andersen and star guard Patty Mills drained back to back threes before Mills got the steal, ran the floor and levelled the scores at 18-18.

With the first ending 22-21, the Aussies came out firing in the second as Matt Dellavedova set up Aron Baynes for the alley-oop to get the crowd on their feet before Ingles, Andersen and Mills helped their side to a healthy lead at the half, having won the quarter 28-11.

 Despite Zhizhi Wang hitting a shot late in the third to get the lead down to eight, the Boomers steadily built their lead in the fourth as they took a 20 point victory and a much needed confidence boost with two matches left before the finals.

“It meant a lot to win,” said Andersen.

“If we hadn’t, it would have been hard to make it to the next round. We show character when our backs are against the wall. We worked as a team today.”  

With the team struggling to make shots in their opening matches prior to today’s victory, the Boomers knew they had to stick to their guns and eventually the shots would drop.

“It was one of those things,” said Ingles.

“Sometimes you make shots, sometimes you don’t. We’re doing the work. We’re shooting a lot of shots at practice. Maybe we can prepare a bit better in the game to catch and shoot.

“Like I said last game, I’d back my guys to make those shots every game. Patty (Mills) came out firing. He’s a big key to getting us going.”

The Boomers will now have to deal with a boisterous home crowd when they take on the British on Day 8 before taking on the Russians on Day 10.

Click here for a comprehensive quarter by quarter, as it happened match report.

Matt Bartolo in London

Boomers succumb to Spain
31 July 2012

The Australian team’s bid to survive beyond the preliminary rounds got a lot more difficult after they were beaten by a star-studded Spain side at the basketball Arena on Day 4.

The Spaniards, with five NBA players compared to one – Patty Mills – for Australia, survived some strong first-half resistance from the Aussies to eventually win comfortably, 82-70.

The Aussies were naturally disappointed with the result, but remained defiant. There are obviously areas in which they accept they need to improve, but they are not going to change their basic approach.

“We’re going to play the same way we do every game,” said Joe Ingles. “If that’s good enough for us to get a win, we’ll get a win. We believe in ourselves, and we’re going to play our style of basketball. Hopefully, that will be enough.

“We pride ourselves on defence, and we’ll continue to do that, and, hopefully, at the end of the day, we’ll get through. You’ve got to back yourself in a tournament like this, and try to fight through any lapses.”

 Australia has now lost its first two games – the other was against Brazil – and must win its remaining three games to guarantee a place in the quarter-finals.

But, depending on other results, two wins could be enough to get Australia through, since four of the six teams from each of the two groups will advance.

Australia played a fabulous first quarter, and thoroughly deserved their 19-14 lead at the end of it. They played at a fast pace, and were tough in defence. They consistently made it hard for Spain to get good looks at the basket, and came up with some great shot-making themselves.

Joe Ingles, Patty Mills and David Anderson did the scoring early, as the Aussies built an 8-6 lead, and as the quarter wore on Brad Newley and Aron Baynes got on the scoresheet. Mark Worthington came up with a three-pointer at a crucial time as well, after Spain had grabbed a 13-12 lead.

Worthington’s shot spurred the Aussies on to finish the quarter strongly, beginning a 7-1 run.

But it was always going to be hard for the Aussies to maintain that level of intensity against a Spanish side that was bound to respond by increasing the intensity of their own play and forcing Australia to have to work even harder.

Spain began eating into Australia’s five-point lead immediately the second quarter began, and after coming up with three of the first four baskets of the term they were in front, 22-21.

Baynes was forced to sit down at this point, having made three fouls, and Australian coach Brett Brown sensibly called a time-out to try to steady the ship. The Boomers were getting a bit sloppy, not shooting as well as they had earlier and not rebounding as well either.

But Spain quickly kicked out to a five-point lead, 26-21, after the resumption of play, challenging the Aussies to lift their game. Fortunately, they did, with baskets from Newley and Ingles cutting the lead to one point.

Mills, who had been off since midway through the first quarter after picking up two early fouls, returned midway through the second and showed some spark. Spain got to a 31-25 lead, and Australia fought back to be 34-32 down.

The Aussies managed to hold it together towards the end of the term, which got physical with Ingles and Serge Ibaka tangling in a battle for a rebound. Spain’s Rudy Fernandez hurt his head when he crashed into an advertising boarding and a photographer, and went to the dressing-room early.

Spain led 37-32 at halftime, and the Aussies needed the break after their opposition had begun to dissect them. But the game began to get right away from the Boomers when Spain went on the rampage immediately as the third term began.

The Spaniards scored the first 10 points of the quarter to push their lead out to 47-32. Australia desperately tried to respond, but Spain kept answering them. After Australia had cut the deficit to 13 points, 49-36, it soon blew right out to 24, with Spain leading 61-37.

Spain was bombing away at will, and with the game gone it was now up to the Aussies to try to find it within themselves to at least stop the bleeding. The Spaniards starting resting some of their big names towards the end of the third quarter, which could only help. Spain led 63-42 at the end of the third term.

Australia stuck at it in the final term, and with Spain continuing to rest some stars the Aussies began to eat into the deficit and rebuild some confidence for their remaining games.

“I am proud of our guys today, we played against the second best team in the world and we were competitive in the first half, I thought our guys  showed great character with not rolling over when the game started to get away from us," said coach Brett Brown.

"I think our fitness base helped us keep the energy on and we clawed our way back and we give Spain credit with all of their talent and veteran experience.“

Australia’s next game is against China, on Day 6.

Greg Prichard in London

Boomers bounced by Brazil
30 July 2012
Boomers coach Brett Brown talks to his players during the third match between th… © Mark Nolan/Getty ImagesThe Boomers have kicked off their London 2012 campaign with a 75-71 loss against a strong Brazilian side with game top scorer Patty Mills (18 on 8/23) unable to inspire the Aussies to an opening victory.

After almost turning around a 13 point third quarter deficit the Boomers pulled within two, 73-71, late but just fell short in what was an entertaining end-to-end battle.

With the South Americans boasting four NBA regulars in Nene, Anderson Varejao, Tiago Splitter and Leandro Barbosa, they were never going to be an easy task.

“It was a big game for us against Brazil,” said David Anderson. “We got down by a bit but to our credit we fought back. Brazil are a good team so it was a tough loss.”  

“You always want to get the first game but you have to take all the positives out of it,” added Mills.

The Aussies were cruelled by 19 turnovers which the Brazilians converted to 29 points and only shot 28/66 from the field.

“You take the turnovers off and you cut half of their points off,” said Mills. “We are usually strong with the ball.” 

“If we stick to how we play and what we do well with our defensive pressure and running out of that then that’s how we can beat teams.”

The Boomers skipped out to an early 6-2 lead with Mills asserting his dominance from the start as the Aussies do what they best – run the floor.

The teams traded baskets as the Boomers went into the opening break with a 20-19 lead before the Brazilians came out strong in the second to build a six point lead, 30-24.

As the teams began to figure one another out, the Australians worked away at the deficit and when Mills converted a rare four point play the Aussies in the crowd went wild.

The Boomers worked the clock down well at the end of the first half and Joe Ingles (15 points) converted two free throws to have his team only down by one at the break, 36-35.

The Brazilians rattled off six straight to start the second half culminating in a fast break basket to Nene to have the scores at 42-35. They went on to build the lead out to 13 before David Anderson (14 points) got hot and scored six straight to keep the Aussies in it.

Down by nine at the early in the fourth quarter, the Aussies needed a spark and David Anderson again delivered as he hit back to back threes for Australia which had the score at 67-62.

As time began to wind down Mills ran the floor, drove to the rim and converted on the layup and had the score at 71-67.

Brazil’s top scorer with 16, Barbosa continued to trouble the scorers as he hit two free throws but Ingles kept the Boomers in it with a tough shot 73-69 with 90 seconds to go.

Barbosa wound down the clock and then missed a long jumper before Mills also could not connect from downtown.

An offensive foul from Barbosa which saw Ingles go down with just under 40 seconds to go gave the Aussies back the ball and Ingles was the one to get the scores back to 73-71 with 29.4 left on the clock.

To the crowd’s anger the Brazilians again let the clock wind down before Mills almost came away with a steal but instead fouled Barbosa who went to the line with 5.2 seconds to go. He was cool under the pressure to hit both, push his personal total to 16 points and let his team a 75-71 lead.

Ingles and Nielsen both missed desperate three point attempts as the Aussies went down by four in their opening match.

The Boomers now play world number two Spain on Tuesday and will need to pick up their game if they can register their first win.

“Now it’s all about recovery, you have to get back in the right frame of mind and keep positive,” said Anderson.

Matt Bartolo in London