Australia is set to face its arch-nemesis Lithuania in the quarterfinals after the Baltic beasts finished 3rd in their pool due to a surprise loss to Croatia today.
The order of the pool was in chaos before today’s games, but with Brazil storming over Nigeria, Spain making short work of Argentina, and Croatia handling business with Lithuania, the top four of Group B are as follows:
Australia as the second seed in Group A will cross over with Lithuania, who is placed third in the opposing pool.
The Boomers’ storied rivalry with Lithuania can be traced back to the Atlanta Olympics where Lithuania crushed Australia’s bronze medal dreams 80-74. Lithuania would once more prove the thorn in the Boomers’ side in Sydney 2000, mauling a Longley-less side 89-71 and heralding a period of depression in the game locally.
But the Boomers’ game will not be the only traditional rivalry playing out in the quarterfinals. The USA will be facing Argentina who stole their gold medal hopes in 2004; Croatia will face Serbia, nations who were literally at war with each other not that long ago; while Spain will face France, their biggest threat in Europe.
Australia can be cautiously confident in their ability to overcome Lithuania this time around, as they have a bigger inside presence with Andrew Bogut and a harder one-on-one cover in Patty Mills. The Boomers are also well rested after two easy wins against China and Venezuela, plus the extra day off afforded to Group A. With Lithuania coming off today’s tough match and playing their stars big minutes, fatigue will be a factor which Australia will look to exploit.
The Lithuanians should not be taken lightly, however. They’ve been known to ‘turn it on’ from the three point line and will be a fierce adversary despite their huge 50 point loss to Spain and their inability to contain the Croats.
Australia will play the first quarterfinal on Thursday morning with times to be confirmed.