The Australian Boomers, a team that dared to dream, have had their ultimate goal of a gold medal stripped from them unceremoniously by a relentless Serbia, going down 61-87.
Australia had ‘just one of those games’ where nothing was falling for them inside, or out. The brilliant off-the-ball movement which had been the trademark of the team was stymied by the Serbians, leaving the Boomers having to shoot poor shots which rarely hit their mark.
The game began with an 8-0 Serbia run before a Patty Mills three pointer gave hope to fans that things would be corrected. But after a 14-33 first half, it soon became clear that a gold medal would remain a dream for the team.
Andrej Lemanis flirted with various line ups to find a way to score, but none of them were clicking. The Serbians really did their research on Australia and avenged their 15 point loss during the group stage, handing the Boomers a loss that was as heartbreaking as it was humbling.
Australia had played a brilliant campaign leading into this game, beating all but the USA on their way to the semi final by an average of 22 points. However it is clear that the gravitas of the occasion caught the team on the back foot.
The Boomers still have a chance to make history in this Olympics, set to take on Spain in the bronze medal game. Spain fell to the USA 76-82 in a game that was not incredibly inspiring for viewers who may have expected more from both teams, but to Spain’s credit, they held the Americans to their lowest score in over 10 years.
The Boomers started the tournament by taking out France, beating Serbia, scaring the USA, and then going on to demolish Lithuania, but the question moving forward is do the Boomers have one more brilliant performance left in them? Can they regroup after this heartbreak and take consolation in a bronze against Pau Gasol on the Spanish armada?
The good news is they shouldn’t play as poorly as they did this morning again. Games like this happen to all teams at one point or another and such lightning rarely strikes twice. Australia has it in them to upset the Spanish, but most bookies would probably predict us bowing out now at fourth – perhaps the worst position to finish an Olympics in. We’ve seen so much greatness for the Boomers, but it would hurt the hearts of all hoops fans if this was yet another campaign where something shiny doesn’t find its way around their necks.
A bronze medal would still be an extraordinary achievement for the team. And if they fall short, they will have still done the nation proud and equaled our greatest ever performance at an Olympic games. Australia is very capable of upsetting Spain; it all comes down to how they deal with this adversity.