France’s thrilling win over Lithuania has ensured the Boomers a basketball World Cup quarter-final appearance – their first since 1982 – in China.
A fuming Lithuania have unloaded on officials, taken a swipe at the Boomers and reportedly launched a protest after the proud side’s brutal basketball World Cup exit saw Australia through to the quarter-finals.
A scrappy 82-76 win to Australia over the Dominican Republic and France’s thrilling 78-75 defeat of their European rivals on Saturday meant the Boomers booked an early berth in the last eight of a Cup for the first time in 37 years.
But a dramatic night had only just begun, with Lithuanian coach Dainius Adomaitis accusing the Boomers of “playing rugby” in their Thursday victory and labelling the officiating in their loss to France a “f***ing joke”.
The Lithuanians had been upset by the Boomers’ physicality in their crucial first-round loss, while a goal-tend by Rudy Gobert that should’ve given Lithuania the lead in the final moments wasn’t called on Saturday.
“Yes, ask questions for FIBA, ask them,” he seethed, unprompted in his post-game tirade, before slamming his hands on the table.
“It’s the second game in a row, first against Australia we play rugby then second game we can’t play even with contact.”
“This is a f***ing joke! This isn’t basketball.”
FIBA are yet to confirm Lithuanian media reports to AAP of a protest that is due to be finalised by Sunday morning.
As it stands though, the results mean the Boomers and France are guaranteed a quarter-final ahead of their Nanjing duel on Monday.
It will be Australia’s first journey to the last eight since 1982, when only 13 sides contested the World Championships in Colombia.
Eight campaigns have come and gone since, the Boomers plugging away towards a maiden major tournament medal without success.
That passage looked in danger earlier on Saturday when the swarming Dominican defence pushed the fancied Boomers’ buttons.
A standout against Lithuania, Aron Baynes fouled out early in the third term but yet again Patty Mills (19 points, nine assists) was there to steady the side in a whistle-happy affair.
Chris Goulding’s (15 points) 11 first-half points were crucial and Andrew Bogut’s (eight points, eight rebounds, six assists) calm playmaking came despite more boos from the crowd.
The Boomers incredibly assisted on all 30 of their field goals, but had 16 turnovers thanks to some impatient offence.
“It’s sort of right there and you expect the floodgates to open a bit and they didn’t,” said coach Andrej Lemanis of their apparent frustrations.
“Some choices (on offence) that were made perhaps short-circuited a bit of what we were trying to do.”
There remains plenty to play for against France, with the two-time defending champion United States likely to top their pool and play the loser of Monday’s clash in a Dongguan quarter-final.
Provided the US beat Brazil on Monday, the winner of France and Australia will move to Shanghai and play either Greece, Brazil or the Czech Republic for a place in the final four.