The Boomers have escaped the ‘Group of Death’ after being drawn in Group A of the Olympic men’s basketball competition with the United States, Venezuela, China and two teams yet to qualify, but what does that mean for Australia’s bid for their first ever medal?
- Qualifier 1
- Qualifier 2
Paradoxically, Australia should be grateful to be pitted against the awe-inspiring Americans in the group stage.
In both London (2012) and Beijing (2008) the Dream Team escorted the Australians to an early exit from the competition, knocking them out of contention in the do-or-die quarter finals.
Being paired with the USA this early means that someone else will have to relieve the Australians of their medal aspirations when the crossovers do occur.
However, before they even get that far they must overcome the unheralded Venezuelans who shocked on their way to qualification, the Chinese, and two yet-to-be confirmed teams who will come from the ‘last chance’ qualification tournaments in July.
Those two teams could be powerhouses such as Serbia, France, or Greece.
Australia should be thankful for the Venezuelans and Chinese, the other options were the battle-hardened Argentines or the Nigerians, who are similar in athleticism to the Americans.
Despite recent talk of gold medals, Andrej Lemanis wont be sitting comfortably content about the challenge that lays ahead of his coaching staff and the twelve brave Australians who will need to stand up and be counted. There will be no easy games.
Whilst the Boomers will escape the United States in the quarter finals, the path ahead is still treacherous.
Group B has been dubbed the “Group of Death” as it is filled with European superpowers long accustomed to the medal dais. Every team in the group is justified in its belief that it can medal in Rio:
- Qualifier 3
A quarter final win against any of the above teams would be tough, but achievable for the star-studded Boomers, who will be primed for do-or-die basketball boasting four players with recent NBA Finals experience in Andrew Bogut, Matthew Dellavedova, Patty Mills and Aron Baynes; and returned Olympians such as Joe Ingles, Brad Newley and David Anderson.
The Australian team has a unique mix of youth, experience, athleticism and basketball IQ that make them a dangerous proposition for any team.
With due respect to Andrew Gaze, Shane Heal, Luc Longley and Andrew Vlahov, this could be the most talented Australian team Ever.
While recent laughable and frankly erroneous headlines have stated the Boomers’ are a “Nightmare for the Dream Team”, even the Americans shouldn’t expect a win sheepishly handed to them by the feisty Australians, who wont feel any awe towards these god-like basketball savants.
After receiving a fair and reasonable draw, the Boomers’ medal hopes rest squarely in their own hands. Australia, traditionally a slow starter and victim of first-up losses, will begin its tournament with two “lucky dips” from the qualifiers basket.
A good start could lead the team to glory.
A poor one could end a dream in disappointment.
Australia’s charge for a first ever medal begins on August 6 against Qualifier 1.