Men's Basketball Wrap: Aussies depth almost reaps rewards
Published 22 August 2016 (AEDT)
BASKETBALL: Australia’s men’s basketball team fell 9.7 seconds short of its first Olympic medal, losing the bronze medal match up with Spain 89-88 after leading with less than 10 seconds remaining.
The fourth place finish equalled Australia’s best result, matching the 1988, 1996 and 2000 finishing positions of the squad.
Australia’s performance earned the respect of the basketball world, accounting for powerhouses France, Serbia, China and Venezuela in the group stages while dropping a nail biter to the United States.
Traditional rival Lithuania stood between Australia and a semi-final berth, and the Aussies easily accounted for the perennial medallist with a 90-64 victory.
Serbia gained revenge in the semi-finals, beating Australia 87-61 to send the Boomers into a bronze medal clash with Spain, the silver medallists in the past two Olympic competitions.
Spain broke out to a 12-point lead in the second quarter, but Australia fought back to trail 40-38 at half time. The entire second half was a back and forth affair, with the teams trading the lead throughout.
Australia took the lead with 35 seconds left when David Andersen knocked down two foul shots, and again with 9.7 seconds remaining thanks to an Aron Baynes basket. A close foul call went Spain’s way, and with 5.4 seconds remaining Australia had one last chance to take the bronze – but it wasn’t to be.
Patty Mills dominated the tournament, averaging 21.3 points per game, the second highest average in the tournament. He would likely have been named as tournament MVP had the Olympics issued such an award.
The evenness of the player’s contributions showed the depth of talent in the team. Baynes averaged 9.6 ppg and 5.8 rpg; Andrew Bogut 9.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg and 3.6 apg; Andersen 8.8 ppg and 4.8 rpg; Ryan Broekhoff 7.6 ppg and 2.9 rpg; Matthew Dellavedova 8.9 ppg and 7.0 apg; Joe Ingles 7.8 ppg, 3.1 rpg and 3.2 apg, Brock Motum 7.0 ppg and 2.3 rpg and Cameron Bairstow 5.4 ppg.