RIO 2016: Australian ballers "scare" US Dream Team
BASKETBALL: Australia's basketball players may have lost to the world super powers USA 98-88 in Rio but they made a huge statement to the world that an historic first Olympic gold medal is within their grasp.
For much of the physical battle the Boomers looked every bit as good as their ridiculously highly paid superstars who without the brilliance of New York Knicks sharp-shooter Carmelo Anthony may have been the victims of one the Olympics' greatest ever upset.
Anthony came out in the first minute of the memorable clash and banged down two quick three-pointers to give the USA a 6-0 point lead and an early swagger.
But this Australian team was not going to be intimidated or pushed around and with guards Matthew Dellavedova and Patty Mills playing an up-tempo game the Boomers dug in for the fight early and in fact rattled the world giants as big man Andrew Bogut showed why he is an NBA championship winner.
Things that come easy to this glamour USA side, even without the super powers of Stephen Curry and Le Bron James, suddenly became tough.
Scoring inside the paint against Bogut, Aron Baynes, Cameron Bairstow, Joe Ingles, David Andersen and company, suddenly got tough for the Americans and at times their frustration at Australia's defence led to cheap fouls.
But as great as the performance was with Mills scoring an amazing 30 points, one less than Anthony's game-high tally, and Dellavedova dishing off 11 assists to go with 11 points for a double/double, the Boomers players would be hurting after playing so well and getting so close.
Australia's next rival will be China on Saturday morning with their final pool game against Venezuela on Monday.
Former Boomers great Andrew Gaze, who had five cracks at trying to win and Olympic medal, and four-time Olympian Shane Heal said Australia would be very disappointed in getting so close but would take immense confidence from how they played against a team which to most are, and have been the Olympic invincibles.
"They showed great fight, they didn't back down and they took it right up to the Americans, one of the greatest teams in the word and showed they can match it with the absolute very," said Gaze, who commentated on the game.
"I could not be prouder of what we've seen from the Australia's national team "
The result was almost a mirror image of their 2004 clash in Greece when the Boomers led at every change only to lose by the same 10-point margin 89-79.
Coach Andrej Lemanis has to make a call on whether to give Bogut a spell against China after he played a big role against the USA to rest up his injured knee and how he approaches the last two games.
He may see value in giving a few players some more minutes in these two games to help get everyone ready for a medal assault.
Australia will now finish second in their pool and play the team which finishes third in the other pool in the crossover games.
If Australia wins its crossover game it will be in with a shot at an historic first medal.
ANDREW Bogut was feeling the pain of coming so close to toppling basketball's highest mountain after a brave Boomers side pushed the USA every step of the way.
The 98-88 scoreline did not do Australia justice with Bogut, Matthew Dellavedova, Patty Mills and other Boomers players showing great fight and a desire to win despite the reputation of their rivals..
Bogut, though, was not taking any joy from the fact the Boomers served it up to the world's best team which relied on heavily on a freakish shooting display by Carmelo Anthony (nine threes) to save them from being victims of one of the Olympics' biggest upsets.
Bogut was in extreme doubt of playing a few weeks out from the Boomers' opening game in Rio because of a knee injury but his presence on the floor was massive for Australia who played some magnificent basketball that had fans wondering if miracle do indeed come true.
"We're pretty disappointed," Bogut told Channel 7 after the 10-point loss..
"We had every opportunity to take that game, we lost the game so it doesn't mean anything.
"We've still got some stuff to work on." added Bogut.
"We battled hard, but like I said we lost the game.
"I know everyone is proud of us and we are not supposed to beat these guys but we have a belief we can compete with them.
"It's the early rounds and we've got some work to do and we could possibly meet them down the track.
"It was a decent performance but we can still clean a lot of things up."
Australian-born USA team member Kyrie Irving said the Aussie's performance did not surprise him or his teammates.
"We expected that. There are some great players on that Australian team," he told Channel 7.