The Boomers have taken care of business. Three wins from three pool matches in Tokyo has left Patty Mills’ team in prime position for the first Olympic medal in Australian men’s basketball history.
Even better, the Boomers seem to be getting stronger with every outing.
An 89-76 win over Germany on Saturday evening followed a less convincing victory over Italy and a scrappy opener against Nigeria.
Patty Mills scored 24 points and Jock Landale (18 points) and Nick Kay (16 points) offered strong support to ensure Australia would top group B and earn a coveted spot in Pot D for the quarterfinal draw.
In an exciting wrinkle, the final eight will find out their next opponent on August 2 after the completion of the pool games on August 1.
The three group winners plus the best second-placed finisher will be placed in Pot D. The other two second-placed finishers and the best two third-placed finishers will be placed in Pot E.
There are only three pool games remaining. Team USA’s game on Saturday night against the Czech Republic and Sunday’s Argentina v Japan and Spain v Slovenia battles.
Australia and France are the only two teams guaranteed a place in Pot D at this stage. The winner of the game between the undefeated Spain and Slovenia teams will join them.
Fourth position will go to the second-placed finisher with the best points difference. It will almost definitely be the Americans if they defeat the Czechs, because they enter the game with a +47 points difference after following a shock defeat against France with a 54-point thrashing of Iran.
So if the last three games go to form Pot D is likely to include France, Australia, Spain/Slovenia and the US.
Pot E will likely be Spain/Slovenia, Italy and then two teams out of Argentina (-28), Germany (-16) and Czech Republic (-14). Argentina needs to beat Japan by more than 12 points to guarantee its position ahead of Germany. While the Czechs can qualify for the quarters with a win against the US or a one-point defeat.
Of that potential group Australia will be looking to avoid whichever of the veteran Spain team that stole bronze from us in Rio or the Luka Doncic-led Slovenians drops to Pot D.
The Argentinians are always tricky and Italy proved to be more than a handful in the group stage. So it’s fingers crossed we end up with Germany or the Czech Republic, but there’s no real easy games at the pointy end of this competition.
“It is up in the air because of percentage,” Aussie basketball great Andrew Bogut told Channel 7. “Hopefully Czech Republic or Argentina would be the best match up for us.”
Bogut believes the Boomers will make the semfinals. “We have a role to play in our fate, but it is going to be us, France, USA and Spain as (the) top four, I‘m calling it now,” he said. “I think a smoky is Luka Doncic and Slovenia. It’s very exciting. I am proud of the boys, having been part of the group and knowing what they’re about.”