SHANGHAI, China –– The Boomers are bound for Beijing.
With a 82-70 win over the Czech Republic, Australia booked a place in the 2019 FIBA World Cup semi-final against Spain, where there’s… history, to say the least.
It was the Spaniards who dealt the Boomers a heartbreaking blow in the third-place game at the 2016 Rio Olympics, taking away any chance of the program winning its first medal at a major event.
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Now, that same team stands between the Boomers and a place in the grand final, in a tournament that’s as wide open as ever, now that Team USA has been ousted.
On Wednesday evening, it was Patty Mills who led the scoring effort with 24 points, but the Boomers’ bench mob stepped up when the team needed it most.
Chris Goulding finished with 14 pointws, Andrew Bogut had 10 points, two rebounds, and three assists, while Nick Kay and Mitch Creek did the intangibles that make them so valuable on this team.
The Czech Republic was led by Patrik Auda, who had 21 points.
To say the game started with a whimper would be an understatement, but, like he’s done for the entire tournament, leave it to Mills to inject energy into the matchup.
He has three three-pointers in the first quarter – 13 points in the period, alone – to electrify the Boomers’ lax offence.
The Czechs were the ones playing with more grit, and continued to attack the paint; Auda leading the way for Ronen Ginzburg’s team.
The scores were tied at the end of the first period, in a low-scoring affair, and that would barely change in the second, where both teams struggled to take care of the ball; the Boomers leading 33-30 going into the main break.
Coming the start of the second half, and the shackles would come off for Australia.
Impressive defence translated to the other end, with a Goulding three-pointer and Nick Kay layup giving the Boomers a 52-43 advantage, and their lead only grew from there.
Suddenly, Australia was playing with a pep in its step, getting a big boost from the bench that’s performed at a high level all tournament.
The Czech Republic opened the fourth quarter with a flurry, going on a 7-0 run, but that was snapped by an emphatic slam from Aron Baynes.
The Czech flirted with a comeback, but the Boomers held strong, keeping their composure to walk away with the win, and a spot in the World Cup semi-finals.
RE-LIVE (if you can’t see the blog; click here!)