In a performance that didn't breathe confidence into Australia's medal hopes at the Rio Olympics, the Boomers grafted a hard fought nine-point victory against USA's Pac-12 College All Stars in front of a near sell-out crowd in Melbourne.
In what was expected to be an easy victory over their vastly inexperienced opponents—made up of the USA's top college players—the Boomers were matched and at times overpowered by their opponents.
San Antonio Spurs Championship winning guard and proud Torres Strait Islander/First Australian, Patty Mills showed moments of brilliance, laying on this no-look special for fellow NBA player, Joe Ingles (Utah Jazz) with the game evenly poised at 35-34 in the second quarter.
He finished the night with 15 points on 3-10 from the three point line in 27 minutes of action. Elsewhere centre Aron Baynes (Detroit Pistons) was damaging in the paint while David Anderson chipped in with 11 points and Cam Bairstow (Also with the Pistons) led the support cast with nine.
The Boomers pushed away in the third but couldn't put the All-Stars away. The Americans fought back in the fourth before eventually going down 92-83.
"Defensively we had some issues in the first half with their speed and ability to get to the rim," said Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis.
"The guys came out and made some adjustments and offensively we had some nice execution.
"I don't want to get caught up in the negatives, we have only been together for a week and this group of 12 has only practiced together once."
The Boomers were without star centre, Andrew Bogut (Dallas Mavericks) and Chris Goulding (Melbourne United) for the clash due to injuries, with Bogut set to miss both matches and likely the Olympics. Cleveland Cavaliers NBA Championship winning guard, Matthew Dellavedova (now with the Milwaukee Bucks), meanwhile, was also forced to sit on the sidelines after insurance papers related to his transfer were not yet processed by the NBA. If he were injured in the game his medical expenses and rehabilitation would not have been paid for by the NBA.
The Australians are rated a good chance of claiming the country's first men's medal in basketball. They take the largest number of NBA-based players to Rio in the team's history, three of whom are NBA title ring-holders—Matthew Dellavedova, Patty Mills and Aaron Baynes—along with non-championship winners, Joe Ingles and Cameron Bairstow.
They will face 2012 quarterfinal victors USA in their group along with China, Venezuela and two qualifying nations. The second game of the two game Pac 12 College Series takes place Thursday.
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