Australian coach Andrej Lemanis says the pain that has driven the Boomers since their Olympic bronze medal loss to Spain needs no mention as the sides prepare to clash again in the World Cup semi-finals.
Australia took care of a gutsy Czech Republic 82-70 in a tense Shanghai quarter-final on Wednesday night, Patty Mills’ 24 points again fuelling them in a sixth-straight Cup win.
It sets up a spicy rematch with Spain in Beijing on Friday, the Boomers’ first World Cup semi-final appearance as they near a maiden major tournament medal.
The victor will play either Argentina or France in Sunday’s gold medal game after both sides notched huge upset wins over Serbia and the United States respectively.
That 2016 loss in Rio still grinds the Boomers’ playing group and coach Andrej Lemanis said there was no doubt it would be on their minds when they arrive in the Chinese capital on Thursday.
“I don’t think it needs to be brought up and spoken about specifically, ’cause everyone’s aware of it,” he said.
“In many ways I think that hurt has driven just the passion and focus for this particular tournament and the commitment to it.
“And one of the first things I heard when I walked back into the locker room was ‘job’s not done yet’.”
They were again made to earn it against a Czech side in their first World Cup since 1982, when they were still called Czechoslovakia.
Mills blazed 13 first-quarter points before Andrew Bogut (10 points on five-of-six shooting, three assists, three blocked shots) took the game by the scruff of the neck in a decisive third-quarter cameo.
Neither team could edge clear but some lock down Boomers defence led to a Chris Goulding (14 points) triple and they were finally up and about.
Bogut then made plays at both ends to dull the boos, the Australians in the crowd responding with ‘Andrew Bogut’ chants of their own.
Goulding then hit two more triples, with Tomas Satoransky’s (13 points, 13 assists, nine rebounds) dunk on the buzzer making it a 15-point game at the final break.
It quickly became an eight point margin but a time-out was followed by an Aron Baynes left-hand alley-oop to stop the run, and Bogut made a series of lay-ups to ensure the Boomers collected a sixth-straight Cup win.
“They caused us to be a little anxious early; it took a while to find our rhythm offensively but once we did I thought we did a nice job,” Lemanis said.