The Boomers came up short in a bronze-medal playoff for the second straight time at an international basketball tournament, but not all is lost for the Australians after they put together a courageous effort and must now look ahead to Tokyo 2020.
For the second consecutive international basketball tournament, the Boomers fell short in the bronze-medal playoff, this occasion it was at the hands of the French. Australia took eventual World Cup winners Spain to a double-overtime classic in the semi-finals, but they weren’t able to make up for that heartbreaking defeat as France exacted revenge on the Australians after losing to them in the group stages.
Australia finished on top of Group H in the first round before continuing their unbeaten run into the second round as they finished ahead of France to top Group L and avoid the USA in the knockout stage.
They beat the Czech Republic by 12 points in the quarter-finals which set up a chance at redemption against Spain in the semi-finals, as the Aussies were looking to make up for their heartbreak at Rio three years ago.
But a missed Patty Mills free throw meant that the game would go to overtime and after two extra periods, Spain overpowered the Aussies as a chance at a maiden gold-medal evaporated.
The bronze-medal playoff against France was again full of chances for the Boomers after they led at every break, but France proved to be too strong in the final stanza as they took out the bronze medal with an eight-point triumph.
Turnovers proved to be the Boomers’ Achilles heel as they continually botched golden opportunities throughout the tournament which ultimately proved to cost them dearly in their final two outings.
Australia’s World Cup campaign was incredible but undoubtedly ended on a sour note, as a medal went begging for the second straight international tournament.
Patty Mills had a tournament to remember and came extremely close to not only making the all-star five of the tournament, but also the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
Mills was the Boomers’ scoring leader, finishing the tournament with averages of 22.8 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game, all while shooting 49.6% from the field and 40.4% from three-point land.
Mills also fell one point shy of being the tournament’s highest scorer, proving that he is at his mercurial best when playing on the international stage for the green and gold.
Next for the Boomers is the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, where they will continue their search for a maiden international medal.
With a host of NBA stars opting not to join the Boomers in China for the World Cup headlined by Ben Simmons, should these stars make themselves available for Tokyo, then a medal may well be within reach for the Aussies.
Ben Simmons, Danté Exum, Jonah Bolden, Thon Maker and Ryan Broekhoff will all be expected to don the green and gold, and should they be available, they will all slot straight into the lineup.
Patty Mills, Joe Ingles, Matthew Dellavedova and Andrew Bogut will keep their spots from this year’s campaign, but the remaining spots are up for grabs.
Young guns Josh Green, Jock Landale and Deng Adel will contend for the remaining few spots along with the more experienced NBL stars Chris Goulding and Mitch Creek, but whichever way coach Andrej Lemanis goes, the squad for Tokyo will be Australia’s best ever and will give the Boomers their best shot at winning a medal.