Boomers fans can dare to dream about a basketball World Cup medal after Australia scored a massive upset win over the United States in Melbourne. Australia had never beaten Team USA in 55 years, but shocked the world champions at Marvel Stadium on Saturday with a 98-94 victory.
It raises hopes of finally bringing home their first medal at either a World Cup or Olympics, with their first match against Canada in China on September 1.
“This is huge for us,” said veteran centre Andrew Bogut. “It’s a friendly so we want to keep it in context, but we did make history tonight as the first senior men’s Australian team to beat an American team. This is a special group of guys that really like playing for their national team and are proud to put on that jersey and we’ve got a group who feel like we can beat anybody in the world.”
Guard Patty Mills carried the Boomers to the historic win, while there were plenty of other strong contributors. Mills finished with a game high 30 points including 13 in the final term. Bogut ended the game with 16 points, nine rebounds and four assists.
After trailing by one point at halftime, the Boomers fell behind by 10 points through the third quarter. It looked like it could end up a repeat of Thursday night, when the US smashed the third quarter to set up the big win but this time the Australians showed their grit.
The Boomers led 78-76 heading into the final quarter to put the record crowd of 52,079 on the edge of their seats. The Americans regained a two-point lead with just under five minutes remaining with Donovan Mitchell and Kemba Walker making inroads. But the Australians managed to get back in front and stifle any rally as Mills racked up nine consecutive points.
The United States were missing many of their NBA superstars, who opted to skip the World Cup. They hadn’t lost since the 2006 world championships, when they fell to Greece in the semi-finals.
Team USA won Thursday’s opener 102-86 to extend their winning sequence to 78 games, which included gold medals at the Beijing, London and Rio Olympic Games.
US coach Gregg Popovich said the Boomers’ performance was a lesson in teamwork for his team – many who have never played together before this campaign. He described his team as “discombobulated” and said they made some poor decisions but gave credit to the Australians.
“They were really great and it’s a testament to how long they’ve stuck together to get this accomplished,” the veteran San Antonio Spurs coach said. “At both ends of the court they were competitive, they executed really well and they came up with the victory.”