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The Australian Boomers are back in action tonight against Italy in the basketball at the Tokyo Olympics from 6:20pm AEST.
Of all the surprises that Tokyo has offered up in the early stages of men’s basketball so far, from France embarrassing the USA by seven points, and Luka Doncic dropping 48 on Argentina, another Boomers Olympic win tonight – this time over Group B rival Italy – wouldn’t be that much of a jolt to the system.
The Boomers have been playing with plenty of confidence as well as a belief that they can beat anyone. In their last four matches, they’ve defeated Argentina, USA and Nigeria twice. If team chemistry is one key ingredient required for international teams to be successful and win tournaments, like the Olympics, then the Boomers have oodles of it.
One advantage the Boomers have is that they don’t rely on one source of scoring production; rather, they’ve embraced a death-by-one-thousand-cuts approach to shooting. The same can be said about making stops.
In their Olympic opener against Nigeria, four players hit double figures – Patty Mills, Nic Kay, Joe Ingles, and Dante Exum. Mills is the pick of the bunch and is in red hot form: he shot five-from-eight from outside the arc against Nigeria and scored 22 points against Team USA in Las Vegas prior to the Games.
Exum was industrious against Nigeria with 11 points, three assists, and five rebounds in 24 minutes and will look to repeat those efforts against Italy. Matisse Thybulle’s defensive work has also been a highlight. He played 23 minutes and scored seven points with five steals (the most on the court) and four rebounds against Nigeria – his minutes keep increasing.
Italy defeated Germany by ten in their Olympic opener which makes this game against Australia a Group B top-of-the-table clash and a battle for higher seedings. If the Boomers beat the Italians they can almost book their ticket to the next round.
With all eyes on an ailing Team USA, Australia are quietly going about their business as would-be medal contenders and their path to the podium will become clear after tonight’s bout.
Tip off: 6.20pm (AEST)
Venue: Saitama Super Arena, Tokyo
TV: Channel Seven
Patty Mills (c), Aron Baynes, Matthew Dellavedova, Dante Exum, Chris Goulding, Josh Green, Nic Kay, Jock Landale, Joe Ingles, Duop Reath, Nathan Sobey, Matisse Thybulle
Nicolo Melli (c), Simone Fontecchio, Danilo Gallinari, Niccolo Mannion, Riccardo Moraschini, Alessandro Pajola, Achille Polonara, Giampaolo Ricci, Marco Spissu, Amedeo Tessitori, Stefano Tonut, Michele Vitali