Losing Aron Baynes might have sent a mild panic attack throughout the Boomers camp when he was ruled out for the rest of the Olympics this week.
But after a comfortable 13-point win over Germany, the Australians showed they can win without their core big man.
The Boomers had already qualified for finals, but the 89-76 win over Germany confirms they won Group B without dropping a game, going 3-0. They will have to wait until Sunday to find out who their last-eight opponent will be.
Patty Mills would attest that he didn’t have his best shooting night. But the 32-year old worked through his scoring struggles to score a game-high 24 points, shooting 9-from-23 from the field including 5-from-15 for threes. He, like the Boomers, had to overcome some first-half obstacles.
“Scorers don’t stop shooting. They just shoot until they heat up,” the analyst said about Mills’ early shooting form.
Patty Mills. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
Germany shot out to an early lead of 22-18 and were able to stifle the Australians on offence.
But a dominant 26-18 second quarter, on the back of stingy defence, laid the foundation for a small 44-40 lead at the half and then 66-59 at the end of three quarters.
In the third quarter when Mills scored a four-point play to give the Australians a 10-point lead, Germany hit back with a 10-0 run of their own. But each time they were challenged they found a way to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
Matisse Thybulle, playing at his first Olympics, proved just how valuable he’s become to this Boomers roster. With less than three seconds to go before the end of the third, he stripped the ball in the Boomers’ defensive half, ran and hit an easy lay-up right on the buzzer, giving the Australians momentum heading into the final term.
At the start of the fourth quarter, the Boomers let fly on a series of long-range shots from Joe Ingles, Thybulle and Jock Landale which helped kill off any type of run from Germany. From there, the Boomers never fell behind.
There were questions marks over how the Boomers were going to fix the void created by the Baynes injury. Enter Landale in arguably his best game for the Boomers: 18 points, three rebounds, three assists and two three-pointers. Nick Kay also stepped up with 16 points with four rebounds, four assists. Duop Reath played his role in the rotation of big men, scoring four points in seven minutes.
Ingles couldn’t get going, scoring six points in 26 minutes, going 2-from-8 from the field. But he’ll look to rebound in their next knockout game.
The one glaring weakness post-Baynes injury was that Germany outmuscled the Boomers 18-9 on the offensive boards. It’s the one area that head coach Brian Goorjian will need to address and clean up before the finals approach.
For Germany, Andreas Obst top-scored with 17, going 5-from-12 for threes. Johannes Voightmann had 13 rebounds and seven points and Johannes Thiemann had nine rebounds and 11 points.
The quest for a first-ever medal continues for the Boomers. The question now remains: can they replicate this kind of form in a series of cutthroat finals games against greater opposition?
Brian Goorjian has always been the darling of the Australian basketball coaching ranks. Widely regarded as the most successful coach in Australian basketball, his 20-year coaching career has yielded six NBL Coach of the Year awards in 1992, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2008, 2009, and six NBL championships. He won two with the South East Melbourne […]
After four heart-breaking fourth-place finishes in previous Olympic Games, the Australian Boomers finally won that elusive medal on Saturday night, when they defeated Luka Doncic and Slovenia in the bronze medal game.