Boomers Go to BarcelonaSeptember 08, 2014
The preliminary round of the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup just ended. The prediction about the United States and Spain meeting in the final didn't change, but the last six days left fans wondering. The Australian men's basketball team has never been in a good position.
The Boomers dropped their final round-robin match against Angola. They finished third in Group D, assured of advancing to the knockout rounds. The draw seemed to be in their favour, where they have a chance of doing better. At the 2010 FIBA World Championship in Turkey, the Boomers also finished third in their group. But they bowed out in the round of 16.
Live from Gran Canaria
Playing in the Spanish island of Gran Canaria, Australia was triumphant in their fourth match. They were challenged by a physical Mexican side before prevailing with a 70-62 victory. This came after their upset over Lithuania. Led by Joe Ingles, who scored 18 points, the Boomers built a huge lead in the first half and managed to hold on it during the next half for a 82-75 victory.
"Obviously this is a big win for us in what we are trying to achieve," Australian coach Andrej Lemanis told reporters.
"Lithuania is not a team you get to beat very often."
The knockout rounds begins on September 6. Australia, Lithuania, and the United States will play in Barcelona. The Boomers meet Turkey in the round on 16 on September 7, and if they win, will play Lithuania or New Zealand two days later. They won't meet the Americans, the favourites, until the semifinals. Australian basketball legend Andrew Gaze likes it.
"From an Australian standpoint we can't manipulate the results now because if we lost to Mexico and ended in a three-way battle for places we could end up in fourth place and play USA in the round of 16," Gaze said.
If the Boomers make it to the semifinals, it will be their best finish in the tournament. This comes after a good showing at the 2012 Summer Olympics. (The Boomers bowed to the American team, led by Kobe Bryant, in the quarterfinals.)
The Americans, as expected, ended in first place in Group C. They notched their fifth straight victory after a 95-71 win over the methodical Ukrainian team, who were under former NBA coach Mike Fratello. Spain, the host nation, also made it first in Group A after a 89-73 win over Serbia.
Many believe the La Roja, led by Pau and Marc Gasol, have a good chance of beating the Americans in the finals. The big names in NBA passed up, but Mike Krzyzewski, the US coach, assembled a young team who were athletic and fast. The Turkish team, whom the Americans played on their second day, find that out. (Turkey provided resistance during the first half. But they gave in during the second half.) Can the Spaniards do better? Barring any upset, fans will find out on September 14.
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