The All-Star break “get togethers”, the team bonding trips to Uluru, the mateship that permeates this Australian Boomers team – something which has been used as a headline in every article written about the Boomer’s in the lead-up to these Olympics – is now something unveiled to the world.
The game began with Team USA’s Carmelo Anthony lighting it up from outside nailing three consecutive three-pointers. You could almost hear the hearts of Australia’s basketball community skip a collective beat as we expected a quick timeout to be called from Coach Andrej Lemanis to gather the troops.
Yet there was no timeout, Andrew Bogut as he has done so each game this Olympics displayed a leadership and poise that possibly has never been seen before in a Boomer’s uniform. The man who has been belittled for his play as often as he has been lauded as Australia’s greatest male basketballer ignited the Boomers play.
Bogut’s leadership rallied Australia’s own crop of NBA stars, with Joe Ingles able to score a quick five consecutive points off USA turnovers and the long range brilliance of Patty Mills and incredible passing from Matthew Dellavedova saw the Boomers take control of the game. An alley-oop play from Dellevdova to Bogut quickly led to a technical foul being called on the Americans who looked rattled as a result of the Boomers play.
Australia’s defence was impeccable, the Americans who ran a high amount of pick and roll offence were routinely forced to the baseline and unable to score as a result.
If anyone doubted Bogut’s importance to this team they were quickly corrected. Bogut was sent to the bench when the Boomers had a 27-21, his absence allowing the USA to go on a 7-2 run in the last two minutes. The offensive brilliance of Carmelo Anthony continued, Anthony’s 14 points in the quarter tying the score 29-29 at the first break.
First Quarter 29-29
After the break, Team USA returned to the court with a renewed defensive vigour. The result forcing a number of quick turnovers out of the Boomers, allowing the USA to take a quick lead to begin the second.
But with Andrew Bogut now back into the game that was short lived. The seven-footer refused to let the Australian go down easily and displayed a number of offensive moves many were unaware he had in his arsenal. Bogut went a perfect six from six from the field in the first half and finished with 15 points.
This was part of a 10-0 Boomers run during the second quarter. David Andersen, the Boomers captain, supported Bogut’s efforts. He nailed some timely mid-range baskets which allowed the Boomers to take a seven-point lead, their biggest lead of the game.
The Boomers were able to pull off a 10-0 run off on the back of some incredible passing from Dellavedova who had 9 assists at half-time, many finishing with timely mid-range buckets from 4-time Olympian David Andersen, who had 10 points in the quarter.
The unity of the Boomers saw them reach their largest lead of the game 46-39 with 3 minutes remaining in the quarter.
Even our NBL stars Chris Goulding, Kevin Lisch, Damian Martin and Brock Motum all made solid contributions in a half which saw the Australians shoot 68% from the field in comparison to Team USA’s 37%.
Half Time 54-49
After the game’s main break, it was obvious Team USA were not going to allow the Boomers to win this game. Australia was unable to score in the third period managing only 13 points to America’s 21.
Making things more difficult was the American’s ability to dominate the rebound count. A testament to the athleticism and size of the American’s is the fact the by games end they had outrebounded Australia 8-21 on the offensive boards.
Bogut levelled USA’s Kevin Durrant to stop an easy lay-up in what was an ugly quarter for the Aussies. Potentially this was a receipt for Durrant’s arrival in Golden State last month, that which resulted in the end of Bogut’s career as a Warrior.
The Americans ended the third quarter with their largest lead since the first two minutes of the game
Third Quarter 67-70
Patty Mills, who made a name for himself around the world when the scored 26 points against the USA when they met in the London Olympics, came out firing for the Boomers as they attempted to upset the Americans and create Australian sports history.
Mills came out firing again in the final period and finished the game with 30 points, going 5/11 from behind the arc. However, it wasn’t enough to stop the American’s, who had an answer to every bucket Mills made in the form of Carmelo Anthony. Anthony finished with 31 points which included 9/15 from the three-point line as well as 8 rebounds.
A Mills steal at the 1-minute mark with the Boomers down five gave Australian fan’s a last second hope that miracles can happen. But the talent of the Americans was too strong, stretching the gap to a 10 point lead before the final siren was heard.
Final Score 88-98
Team USA’s Paul George was unhappy about the physical play the team received from the Australian’s.
“We knew we were going to get their best,” George said.
“It was an adjustment for us. The game kind of got out of hand early with the physical play”
George noted that Australia has a tendency to be dirty, perhaps a jab at Bogut (15 points, 3 assists and 3 blocks) and Dellavedova (11 points, 11 assists and 6 rebounds) who have both were named as the dirtiest players in the NBA in a poll by the players last season.
USA’s Kyrie Irving gave respect to the Boomers effort.
“They are great players on that team, it’s the kinda game you want to be involved in as a professional,” said Irving.
Yet it was Bogut who truly put the game into perspective, a game which became the most streamed sporting event in Australian history, streamed online by more people than those who watched the Melbourne Cup.
“We’re disappointed, we had every opportunity to try and push that game. We lost the game so it means nothing. There are no small victories, we battled, so let’s not sugar-coat it we lost the game, we’re disappointed with the result,” Bogut said.
“We’ve got work to do”.
Over the years we’ve witnessed a lot of games against the USA where the Boomers entered the game thinking they could win. Bogut’s comments bode well for Australia’s medal hopes with this game being perhaps the first game against the American’s it seems the Boomers went into expecting to win.