What a week the Boomers have had. Before the Olympics there were hushed murmurs that the Australians could possibly challenge for a bronze medal, the first for the men’s team. After beating two top six countries in France and Serbia and then pushing the best team in the world until the very end most people now have the Boomers as favourites to make the gold medal match. They have played the three hardest countries in their group which means they will be able to rest starters and fine tune game plans against China and Venezuela.
L 62-119 vs. USA
L 60-88 vs. France
L 68-72 vs. Venezuela
Points – Jianlian Yi – 20.7
Rebounds – Jianlian Yi – 7.3
Assists – Ailun Guo – 3.7
Starting Five: Jiwei Zhao, Yanyuhang Ding, Peng Zhuo, Jianlian Yi, Qi Zhou
Most Important Player – Jianlian Yi
It’s pretty clear to see that Yi is far and away the best player on the Chinese team and without him, the team most likely wouldn’t even be in Rio. For the tournament he’s third in points per game (20.7), fifth in rebounds (7.3), third in steals (2.3) and fourth in minutes played (32.1). Yi is the first, second, third and fourth option for this China team because other than him, they don’t have much else.
What we must do
1. Start strong. One of the worst things that could happen is that China stays around in the game because Australia has underestimated them. Start strong, blow out the lead and then work things out.
2. Get some rest. After hopefully blowing out the lead, the team needs to rest their big names. Bogut, Mills, Dellavedova, Ingles and Baynes will need to stay fresh for the elimination rounds.
3. Continue the momentum. After nearly the perfect start to their Olympic campaign, the Boomers now have the basketball world watching everything they do. Keep up the ball movement and continue showing that they are the USA’s biggest rival.
What we need to avoid
1. Getting injured. The Boomers are firm favourites for second place in the group but that won’t mean much if the leaders are injured. Give the big names some minutes and then rest them. No point going for a fifty-point win.
2. Taking the foot off the pedal. Even if Bogut, Mills and Dellavedova aren’t in the game, the others still need to run the plays and continue to play hard. There might be a time in future games where Chris Goulding or Damien Martin will need to play so having them used to playing at the elite level will definitely help.
3. Putting too much stock into this game. Beating the worst team in the group shouldn’t be something to get excited by. Australia has shown that they aren’t pushovers any more so they need to continue thinking like a contender. Win and move on.
Australia by 24 points. The Boomers have too much talent and size to be bothered by China and their suffocating defence will limit Yi’s productivity. Just get the win and onto the Venezuela game.