USA ends Boomers dream

USA ends Boomers dream

It took just two minutes after half time for the USA to shatter the Boomers' dream of an unthinkable upset in the men's basketball quarter finals at the Beijing Olympics tonight, with the unbackable gold medal favourites winning 116-85, Mitchell Murphy writes for Fairfax.

[Box score]

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AUDIO: Peter Walsh interviews Glen Saville Part 1 Part 2

The USA led 55-43 at half time after Australia trailled by just one point at quarter time (25-24).

But the NBA super stars came out after the main break and chalked up 14 unanswered points to extend their lead to 21 points. The game was over.

The USA could have put Australia to the sword in the first half had their long range shooting been on song. Surprisingly, the USA hit just three of 13 three-point shots in the first half.

Aptly, the Guns N' Roses hit Welcome to the Jungle was played over the PA system just prior to tip off. This was always going to be a David versus Goliath scenario for the Aussies.

In a nutshell, Australia simply could not contain USA's supreme athleticism or match their massive height advantage.

Captain Matt Nielsen was aggressive in defence, while Mark Worthington and NBA superstar LeBron James came close to an altercation during the second quarter.

Kobe Bryant was outstanding for Team USA, scoring a game high 25 points.

Rookie Boomers' guard Patrick Mills showed why he is firmly in the sights of NBA franchises, showing glimpses of brillance as Australia's top scorer with 20 points. Related: Manu on Mills US rolls but Mills shines ; Mills a flagbearer for his people

Unfortunately, Andrew Bogut found himself in early foul trouble and coach Brian Goorjian was forced to leave him on the bench for the final five minutes of the opening stanza.

Bogut was restricted to just four points for the game.

Dubbed the "Redeem Team", due to the USA not making the gold medal game at the 2004 Athens Olympics, the half billion per year 2008 USA outfit are in great form at the business end of this tournament.

See FIBA's accumulated team stats for the Boomers


Patrick Mills (85 total; 14.2 ppg)
Andrew Bogut (76 total; 12.7 ppg)
Brad Newley (76 total; 12.7 ppg)

Andrew Bogut (23 total; 3.8 rpg)
Mark Worthington (22 total; 3.7 rpg)
Chris Anstey (21 total; 3.5 rpg)
David Andersen 21 total; 3.5 rpg)

CJ Bruton (18 total; 3 apg)
Patrick Mills (12 total; 2 apg)
Mark Worthington (11 total; 1.8 apg)

CJ Bruton (10 total; 1.7 spg)
Patrick Mills (10 total; 1.7 spg)
Brad Newley (6 total; 1.0 spg)

Blocked shots
Andrew Bogut (3 total; 0.5 bpg)
Chris Anstey (2 total; 0.3 bpg)
David Barlow (2 total; 0.3 bpg)

Glen Saville (0 total over 5 games)
Shawn Redhage (2 total over 5 games)
Joe Ingles (3 total over 5 games)

2-point field goal percentage
Joe Ingles (5-6 over 5 games; 83.3%)
Glen Saville (4-6 over 5 games; 66.7%)
Brad Newley (19-29 over 6 games; 65.5%)
Chris Anstey (11-17 over 6 games; 64.7%)

3-point shooting percentage
Glen Saville (5-7 over 5 games; 71.4%)
Andrew Bogut (5-8 over 6 games; 62.5%)
Chris Anstey (7-13 over 6 games; 53.8%)

Free throw percentage
CJ Bruton (10-10 over 6 games; 100%)
David Andersen (8-8 over 6 games; 100%)
Glen Saville (5-5 over 5 games; 100%)
Joe Ingles (5-5 over 5 games; 100%)
David Barlow (2-2 over 6 games; 100%)

Minutes played
Brad Newley (155 minutes over 6 games; 25.8 mpg)
Patrick Mills (142 minutes over 6 games; 23.7 mpg)
CJ Bruton (136 minutes over 6 games; 22.7 mpg)

Boomers v USA preview:

After losses to Croatia and Argentina and victories over Iran, Russia and Lithuania this Boomers team can now leave Beijing with its head held high.

Say what? Leave? You're kiddin'.

Australia takes on the United States on Wednesday night at 10:00pm AET in a knockout quarter final showdown that could turn the basketball world on its ear. It’s stratosphere stuff…

Watch Boomers Captain Matt Nielsen in Beijing

Watch FIARFAX's BOOMERS v REDEEM TEAM  multimedia preview

Follow the game on FIBA LIVE STATS

Featured links:’s Chris Sheridan thinks the Boomers can win

Andrew Bogut thinks so too

Brian Goorjian is happy to “get a swing at big dog"

SMH’s Michael Cowley says a win would be bigger than Rocky 38

AAP’s James Dampney knows guts will be the key


Group standings


Player leaders

Team leaders

Pre-Olympic videos:

Patty Mills is expecting to learn a lot

David Andersen thinks the Boomers will upset some teams

Boomers smash Lithuania 106-75
18 August 2008

[Box score] THE Boomers claimed another European superpower scalp today as they thrashed Lithuania and now they have a message for the US Dream Team: We're coming, writes James Dampney for AAP. 

AUDIO: Hear a great montage featuring ABC Radio's Peter Walsh

View FIBA's picture gallery ; View FOXSports picture gallery

After a slow start to the Olympic basketball tournament, the new-look Australian men's basketball team has caught fire, thrashing previously undefeated Lithuania 106-75 in their final group game two days after eliminating European champions Russia.

Despite America's superstar line-up including the likes of NBA guns Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, the Boomers will fear no-one in this kind of form.

Today, Andrew Bogut laid the platform for the victory, scoring a game-high 23 points, while fellow youngsters Brad Newley and Patrick Mills were also superb as the Boomers stunned a team that had already won Group A.

Australia had never beaten Lithuania in Olympic competition before today, with bronze medal playoffs in 1996 and 2000 counted among its four Games defeats.

But the Aussies burst out of the blocks and never let up in a remarkable display against one of Olympic basketball's truly great nations.

It's a shame the Boomers didn't play this well earlier in the tournament and give themselves a better seeding, but they will take some red-hot form into Wednesday's quarter-final.

Playing with a freedom and confidence missing in the opening week, the Boomers got off to a sensational start.

Newley drove to the basket to get the scoring underway before Bogut took over, scoring nine straight points as the Australians jumped out to an 11-6 lead.

The Boomers then embarked on the kind of stretch teams dream of, playing lock-down defence and scoring with ease to reel off 15 unanswered points.

Lithuania didn't score for more than four minutes as it went to the first break down 28-14 following a quarter that proved the Boomers can match it with anyone.

The Europeans made a run in the second quarter, closing to within six points after a three-pointer from Simas Jasaitis.

But Australia responded in kind, embarking on a scintillating 19-0 run to lead by 26 points at the end of the first half.

It didn't stop after the main break, with the Boomers leading by 24 at the final change and cruising home.

Jasaitis underlined his team's frustration when he kicked the ball deep into the second tier of the stands early in the fourth quarter, earning himself an unsportsmanlike foul.

Boomers destroy nemesis Lithuania

Australia turned the basketball world upside down by humiliating red-hot and traditional nemesis Lithuania 106 -75 on the last day of preliminary round action at the Olympics.

Brian Goorjian’s team, thrashed in its opening two games by Croatia and Argentina, have now beaten Iran, European champions Russia and Lithuania, a side that defeated them in bronze-medal games at both the Summer Games of Atlanta and Sydney.

Andrew Bogut had nine of his game-high 23 points in the first quarter when the Boomers took a 28-14 lead.

Bogut was four of five from the floor in that opening frame, which included a make on his only three-pointer.

Next up for the Boomers, who finished fourth in Group A, is a quarter-final against the United States, but Goorjian wants to savour the win over Lithuania first and it’s no wonder.

The Lithuanians had won all four of their previous Olympic encounters, and beaten Australia at the 2006 FIBA World Championship.

“We played a European world power today,” Goorjian said.

“They are like the military. They come in and they kicked our ass many times. We played a very good game of basketball and I’m very proud of it.”

Lithuania did not make any excuses, but stressed the game would have no bearing on their quarter-final against China or Greece.

“The team that we have, it definitely doesn’t shake our confidence,” Lithuania’s Linas Kleiza said to

“They came out good, they played great. We relaxed, thought that everything was done.”

When the dust had settled, Australia had shot an unworldly 16 of 25 (64%) from long range, with Bogut, Brad Newley and Chris Anstey each a perfect three of three.

Eight Aussies hit shots from behind the arc.

What made the win even more impressive was the defense that Australia played. They forced Lithuania to commit 25 turnovers

Lithuania coach Ramunas Butautas said: “Congratulations to Australia. They played fantastic, played very aggressive defense and were successful on offense. We played very bad. It was not our day.”

Lithuania had already clinched first place in Group A after winning their opening four games. They will take on the loser of Greece’s game against China in the quarter-finals.

“Our players began to play in the quarter-finals too early, but I believe in my team and my players,” Butautas said.

Australia delivered the knockout punch over the final five minutes of the second quarter, outscoring the Lithuanians 16-2 for a 55-29 advantage at half-time.

The Boomers now have a quarter-final against gold-medal favourites Team USA.

When asked about his tactics for Team USA, Goorjian said: “There is no game plan for the USA. We have a chance to take a swing at the USA. I’m confident we are going to get out there and play ball.

“I don’t know if we can, or can’t. I like the way we are playing. I don’t even want to look at the tapes.”

Australia pushed the United States hard in their friendly in Shanghai before the Olympics and ever since, the USA have been ruthless against their opponents.

The Americans even thrashed Greece and world champions Spain.

Goorjian, meanwhile, wanted to send a message to everyone Down Under.

“I want our country to be proud of our team,” he said. “Everybody in Australia will be watching that game. Hopefully, we will play as we have today.”

PREVIEW: Boomers v Lithuania
17 August 2008

After one of Australia's greatest victories on the Olympic stage on Saturday, when the Boomers thumped Russia 95-80, the team has to turn around and face unbeaten Lithuania.

Tip off time is 1:15pm AET on Monday. Click here to go to FIBA's live stats -- and if we're lucky it might even be on Channel 7.

Go Boomers! 

Boomers doing it for those that came before
By James Dampney
18 August 2008

THE Boomers want to honour their Olympic predecessors with victory against Lithuania in their final group match before the men's basketball quarter-finals.

The result of the game is unlikely to improve Australia's fourth position in Group A.

The Boomers can only move up in the standings if they win and Croatia suffer an unlikely loss to win-less minnows Iran.

But the Australians would love to continue their two-game winning streak and take some confidence into their knock-out match against the United States.

Lithuania have proven a regular stumbling block for Australian teams, twice denying the Boomers a first Olympic medal in bronze-medal play-offs in 1996 and 2000.

They also defeated Australia in pool games at the 1992 and 2004 Olympics, and again in the 2006 world championships in Japan.

Australia recorded their lone victory from six attempts in major competitions at the 1998 world titles.

The unbeaten Lithuanians have been particularly impressive in China, but Boomers guard Brad Newley wants to reverse the Olympic trend.  And the team has taken confidence from beating European champions Russia.

"(Beating Russia) was an unbelievable feeling," Newley said.

"That's one out of the way and now it's Lithuania.

"They've been a bogey side for Australian basketball for many years, and we'd love to do something for the guys in the past and get a win against them."

The Australians were playing well below their abilities as they made a nervous start to the tournament, losing their opening two games.

But wins over Iran and Russia have put a skip back in the Boomers' step, and captain Matt Nielsen believes it's time to change the script with Lithuania.

"We're happy with the performance (against Russia), but we've got our sights set on Lithuania and no further right now," he said.

"Australia has a history with Lithuania and it hasn't gone our way, but those players have past on both teams.

"We want to change the story a little bit."

Newley also hopes there is one other promising omen ahead of the Lithuania game.

Australia's opening two losses came in evening sessions, while their two wins were in games starting at 11.15am local time (1315 AEST) - the time they tip-off against Lithuania.

"I don't know what's with these 11.15 games," Newley said.

" We come ready to play.

"We never play that time in Australia and it's been great.

"The next one I think's 11.15 also so you never know what's going to happen."

Believe it: Boomers thump Russia
16 August 2008

[Box Score] THE Boomers have produced their best basketball when it mattered most, stunning European champions Russia 95-80 to reach the Beijing Olympics men's quarter-finals, writes James Dampney for AAP.


Coach Brian Goorjian declared before the showdown the Boomers were still trying to find their mojo ... and they still are.

The performance wasn't spectacular, but it was a unified effort full of energy and resolve.

After the game, an emotional Goorjian described his stint as national coach "as a rollercoaster ride" and that he felt at times his side has been treated as "second-class citizens" by the basketball fraternity.

"We have been a team that has been under the bar ... a team that hadn't been able to get over the hump in major competitions and not been able to beat the European power," Goorjian said.

"For me personally, I felt today was the trademark of seven years of work with the program," Goorjian said.

The Boomers' NBA star centre Andrew Bogut stood tall during the pressure moments against the reigning European champions.

Bogut contributed a valuable 22 points and eight rebounds, including a powerful slam dunk midway through the final quarter that brought the crowd to their feet with applause. Veteran guard CJ Bruton also scored 22 points and was among Australia's best players.

"The most important thing is we played well as a team," Bogut said.

"Individual performances don't mean anything at an Olympic Games. You can score 30 points a game, but your team does not go through to the next round.

"Today we executed what we were supposed to do ... we took Russia out of what they wanted to do.

"Nobody believes in us, but us. Everyone is doubting us, but we have nothing to lose.

"It's an accomplishment to get through to the next round - that was our goal at the (pre Olympics) training camp (held on the Gold Coast)."

Bogut has no doubts what the key area is Australia has turned around.

"Our defence has improved in the past two games," Bogut said.

"We're not letting teams execute the half court and that is the key for Australia. If we try to play a half court game against European teams we'll get hammered."

Australia led 27-16 at quarter time after Chris Anstey nailed a three-pointer 27 seconds before the buzzer. The Boomers extended their lead to 16 by half time (49-33) and they went down the stretch up 69-55.

After losing their first two games against Croatia and Argentina, the Boomers obviously gained plenty of confidence from their win over Iran two days ago.

"We took a soft approach inside against those two teams and backed off, " Goorjian said.

"We talked about everything comes down to respect and I thought the defensive end of the floor today was key."

The game featured many heavy physical collisions with captain Matt Nielsen deserving plenty of credit for leading from the front when Russia attempted to simply out muscle the Boomers.

"We have been waiting for this opportunity since the last Olympics," Nielsen said. "There are only so many games that come up like this and we were ready for it."

"A few times there were some little flare ups, but it was all about things being intense."

With the National Basketball League in Australia in disarray, Goorjian is acutely aware of the positive domino affect a strong display by Boomers in China will have on the NBL. Well, Mr Goorjian, the game's creditability Down Under got a significant boost today.

Australia's next game is on Monday against the competition's form team Lithuania.

It's probable, the way the cards will fall at the completion of the preliminary rounds, the Boomers will take on the United States in the quarter finals.

"Now we have a chance of miracle on ice ... or whatever you want to call it," Goorjian said.

"We have to punch well above our weight, but that's what an Aussie does and I am looking forward to it with this group."

"We took a soft approach inside against those two teams and backed off, " Goorjian said.

"We talked about everything comes down to respect and I thought the defensive end of the floor today was key."

The game featured many heavy physical collisions with captain Matt Nielsen deserving plenty of credit for leading from the front when Russia attempted to simply out muscle the Boomers.

"We have been waiting for this opportunity since the last Olympics," Nielsen said. "There are only so many games that come up like this and we were ready for it."

"A few times there were some little flare ups, but it was all about things being intense."

With the National Basketball League in Australia in disarray, Goorjian is acutely aware of the positive domino affect a strong display by Boomers in China will have on the NBL. Well, Mr Goorjian, the game's creditability Down Under got a significant boost today.

Australia's next game is on Monday against the competition's form team Lithuania.

It's probable, the way the cards will fall at the completion of the preliminary rounds, the Boomers will take on the United States in the quarter finals.

"Now we have a chance of miracle on ice ... or whatever you want to call it," Goorjian said.

"We have to punch well above our weight, but that's what an Aussie does and I am looking forward to it with this group."


The coach of the Australian men's basketball team says it was a great relief to finally notch up a win in their Olympics campaign, writes the ABC.

The Boomers beat Iran 106-68, reversing earlier losses to Croatia and Argentina.

Goorjian, who was scathing in his criticism of his team after the loss to Croatia, says the win is welcome.

"I think the feeling in the camp is relief," he said.

"Today it wasn't so much the result as how we played.

"I thought we were very good defensively, and we got contributions from everybody and we hit our shots."

But he says the looming encounter with Russia is going to be make or break for the team.

"It comes down to Russia," he said.

"We're going to have to beat Russia to move on."

The Boomers play Russia at 1:15pm AET on Saturday. WATCH LIVE STATS

Boomers keep medal hopes alive

By Mitchell Murphy for Fairfax

A performance full of true Aussie guts and determination has enabled the Boomers basketball team to keep their medal play off hopes alive at the Beijing Olympics following a 95-80 win over Russia today.

Andrew Bogut showed just why he is considered one of the best young centres in the game, putting Australia on his back and carrying them past one of the main medal hopes in the tournament.

He was a commanding presence throughout, finishing with 22 points, but every one of the Australians stepped up. Their reward is likely to be a knockout second-round clash with the US, but that matters little right now to the Boomers, who were in huge trouble after losing their first two games in Beijing.

Bogut sealed the victory with one of the plays of the tournament, taking on two defenders and throwing down a thunderous dunk that gave the Boomers an unassailable 18-point lead with five minutes remaining.

Prior to today, the two nations had failed to live up to expectations in China and both started nervously. But there was a noticeable resolve about the Boomers that was missing earlier in the tournament. Bogut was heavily involved from the opening whistle as the Boomers skipped out to an 8-2 lead.

Jumpshots that had been missing all tournament were finally dropping, with CJ Bruton, Matt Nielsen and Chris Anstey all hitting three-pointers as the Boomers took a 27-16 lead after easily their best quarter of the tournament. There was no let-off in the second term by the Australians, who were stifling Russia on the defensive end and finding inroads when they were in possession.

David Andersen, who signed with CSKA Moscow just before the Olympics, stepped up in the second period and hit five quick points as the Boomers doubled Russia's score, 32-16. Former Chicago Bull Viktor Khryapa, who was under an injury cloud coming into the tournament, kept the Russians in the game in the second term, hitting all three of his three-point attempts. But the opening half was all Australia, with the underdogs taking a well deserved 49-33 lead into the main break.

The Russians were always going to make a run at some stage - and it came at the start of the third quarter. A 9-0 streak got the Europeans back into the contest, down by just seven points. But the Australians refused to buckle, re-establishing a double-figure lead on a three-pointer from Bogut. Two free-throws from Brad Newley gave the Boomers their biggest lead, 67-49, before Russia hit a couple of late triples to trail 69-55 heading into the final term. The result, however, was never in doubt and Australia can look forward to the second round.

---Boomers stun RussiaBy FIBA.comBEIJING –

Australia coach Brian Goorjian stood up for Andrew Bogut and the big center thanked him by leading the Boomers to a 95-80 upset of European champions Russia and into the quarter-finals of the Olympics.

With Bogut facing criticism in the Australian media for a slow start to the Beijing Games, Goorjian hit back by arguing that the Milwaukee Bucks center needed some help and against the Russians, the Melbourne big man delivered big style with 22 points and eight rebounds.

"Nobody believes in us but us,” Bogut said. “Everyone is doubting us. People didn't think we were going to get to the next round so this is an accomplishment. This was our goal going into the Olympics.”

David Andersen, one of Europe’s top players at CSKA Moscow the past few seasons, also responded with 11 points and five boards.

Andersen and Bogut were a combined seven of nine from the floor in the first half, which opened up the Boomers’ outside game.

They nailed six of 14 from behind the arc in the first two quarters.

Mark Worthington’s three-point play sparked a 13-0 run which gave the Aussies a 32-16 lead and they took a 49-33 advantage to half-time.Russia managed to cut the deficit to 51-44 in the third quarter on a basket from Alexey Savrasenko (16pts 4rbs), but Bogut replied with a three-pointer.

That was as close at last year’s EuroBasket winners would get.Russia coach David Blatt experienced one of the ultimate highs in European basketball just one year ago in Madrid when he led the country to the EuroBasket gold medal with a thrilling final win over hosts Spain.

Now he’s on a big low.
"You have to tip off your hat to Australia,” he said.“They played great basketball and there's no denying they were much better."It's very disappointing for us. The way that we played, I didn't see this coming. I knew that coming into this tournament we weren't the same team that we were last year.

“We've had too many difficulties, too many unfortunate things have happened along the way and we just didn't find a way to recover from them.

“It sort of came out in an exaggerated and painful way today. We have to accept the responsibility for our performance today."

One of the most difficult parts to the Russian build-up was the uncertainty over Viktor Khryapa. A sprained ankle suffered during the preparations nearly knocked the CSKA Moscow forward out of the Beijing Games.

Blatt decided to include him in the team and Khryapa justified his place with inspirational play. Against Australia, he was the Russians’ best player, burying all six of his attempts from behind the arc on his way to a team-best 21 points. He also corralled nine rebounds and swatted two shots.The player who was far from the type of performance that he put on at EuroBasket 2007 was the MVP of that tournament, Andrei Kirilenko.‘AK-47’ had a tough Olympics, missing nine of his 20 free throws in the team’s narrow setback to Lithuania on Wednesday and then making just one of 10 shots from the floor against Australia.

"We are very disappointed,” Kirilenko said. “We are not going through to the next round and it's a huge disappointment for us."

Brad Newley, the Australia swingman, said the game-plan was to disrupt the Russians as much as possible.

“We really fought,” Newley said. “Guys who have been really quiet throughout the series came out and really played today.”

The one-two punch of Andersen and Bogut truly set the tone for the victory, giving them an inside presence the Boomers desperately needed. When the teams went to the changing rooms, the pair had combined for 21 points and seven rebounds.

"Andrew Bogut is the cornerstone of this team but he can't carry this team,” Australia coach Brian Goorjian said.

“When we win he is great, when we lose it's Andrew Bogut's fault.

“He was great today. I thought he was very good in the last game. I think he has handled the highs and lows great.”

Bogut’s signature moment came in the second half when the Russians turned up the intensity on defense and were threatening to make a run.

He got the ball on the low blocks, went up strong and dunked over Andrey Vorontsevich.

The win has put the Australians into the quarter-finals.

In his opening comments to the media, Goorjian said: "Seven years of work and a rollercoaster ride that I was feeling with the group since we got here that we have been second class citizens in this.

“We have been a team that has been under the bar, a team that hasn't been able to get over the hump in major competition and has not been able to beat a European power. 

"We took a soft approach inside against Argentina and Croatia. We talked about everything comes down to today.”

Now Lithuania become a major game for the Aussies, whose other win in Beijing came against Iran.

"We have one more game in hand,” Bogut said. “We want to beat Lithuania. If we don't win that game, we know it's a (quarter-final) match-up against the United States.

“Lithuania are one of the best teams in the world, they are still undefeated.”---

Boomers smash Iran for first win
14 August 2008

[Box Score] [See picture gallery] The Boomers have finally kickstarted their Olympic campaign with a crushing 106-68 over Iran in the men's basketball tournament in Beijing today, writes James Dampney for AAP.

Brad Newley and Andrew Bogut were the stars of the show as the Australians kept alive their chances of reaching the second round heading into Saturday's crucial match-up with European champions Russia.

[Read what PATRICK MILLS has to say] [See FIBA's Dave Andersen video] [See FIBA's Andrew Bogut video]

After two terrible opening performances against Croatia and Argentina, the Boomers finally broke out of their form slump, scoring freely and showing a huge improvement on the defensive end too.

Newley was on fire from the first whistle and led all scorers with 24 points, while Bogut added 10 points and showed plenty of energy in limited court-time.

Having struggled mightily at both ends of the floor at the start of the Olympics, the Boomers finally relaxed and played a more up-tempo style to race ahead 14-1.

Newley was everywhere, picking up easy points driving to the basket and  nailing some outside jumpers as Australia romped to a 28-15 quarter-time lead.

It was more of the same in the second term as the Australians scored nine straight points to open a 20-point lead, 37-17.

Newley then reeled off nine quick points, including two three-pointers, to set Australia up 53-29 at halftime.

Chris Anstey, who had had an extremely quiet tournament, found some form in the third term.

His thunderous dunk with just over a minute remaining in the quarter blew the margin out to 30 points, 73-43.

The final quarter was a stroll, with CJ Bruton, Mark Worthington and Anstey hitting consecutive three-pointers for a 35-point lead.


Australia's frontline was supposed to be the ace up their basketball singlet at the Beijing Olympics, but to date Andrew Bogut and the Boomers' big men have barely been sighted, writes James Dampney for AAP.

Today against Iran [FOLLOW LIVE STATS] they have one final chance to start firing or Australia will almost certainly fade away from the Games in the first round for the second straight time.

Their opening two matches in Beijing have resulted in highly disappointing losses to Croatia and Argentina.

Australia's front court, featuring current and former NBA players Bogut and Chris Anstey plus the European-based Matt Nielsen and David Andersen, have had minimal impact.

The team as a whole has played tense basketball, personified by last night's performance against Argentina, when plenty of shots barely grazed the front of the rim.

Bogut and Andersen improved a little from the opening game, but the Boomers have to beat Iran to keep their Olympic hopes alive.

Coach Brian Goorjian is going to stick with his formula of running everything through his big men one more time.

"We've got these four bigs here and I think we're starting to get them going a little bit and get the ball inside," he said.

"We've just got to continue and get better.

"The game-plan we have right now of getting the ball inside we're going to have to stick with and we're going to have to beat Iran with.

"I don't think we can look back now."

Australia need a minimum of two wins to reach the knockout phase and face European champions Russia and bogey side Lithuania to round out the group.

The free-flowing, confident basketball the Boomers played in the lead-up to Beijing is a distant memory and Goorjian has labelled tomorrow "D-Day".

"The teams we played prior to this have lifted and gone up a level. We haven't," he said.

"I don't think the guys are flat or not into it, I just think they're wound real tight and we're getting to D-Day and we need a win.

"This group right now just needs to get a win and get some momentum."

Goorjian is keeping the faith with his under-pressure, under-performing group.

"I know everybody's down on the Boomers right now and we're in the poo, but I never thought we were going to come into this tournament and go unscathed," he said.

"We need to win a game against Iran and we need to beat a top European team in order to move forward.

"If this group can stay on its feet and not buckle over and loosen up a little bit, I think we can be okay."

Boomers lose to Argentina
12 August 2008
By James Dampney

Box Score] Another horror start has left the Boomers on the edge of Olympic oblivion after an 85-68 loss to Argentina early today.


Croatia bumps Boomers in Beijing opener
10 August 2008
By James Dampey for AAP

BEIJING, CHINA -- After one night Australia faces an uphill battle to reach the second round of the men’s Olympic basketball competition after a horrible opening-night performance against Croatia.


Australia were clearly out-pointed by the reigning Olympic champions after they inexplicably gave up a 20-3 start in the opening quarter from which they never recovered.

The Boomers must now win at least two,  maybe all three, of their remaining games against Iran, Russia and Lithuania to qualify to the quarter-finals.

It was like nothing had changed in the first quarter from two nights previous when Australia stunk against Croatia; as they struggled to get the ball anywhere near the basket.

Some much-needed energy from young point guard Patrick Mills finally got the Aussies going with two fast drives drawing consecutive baskets and pushing their score into double figures for the opening term.

The second quarter was easily the Boomers best for the tournament and they finally hit some outside shots with Glen Saville and Brad Newley getting three-pointers as the margin was reduced to 39-29 at half-time.

With Andrew Bogut working his way into the contest the Boomers got within eight before NBA star Manu Ginobili steadied the Argentine ship and it was soon back out to 15.

Unfortunately, that's where it pretty much stayed for the rest of the night.

Mills was clearly the stand-out for the Boomers top-scoring with 22 points with Newley was next best with 11.

Preview: Boomers v Argentina

Australian men's basketball captain Matt Nielsen declared his team will respond positively and display grit and courage after suffering a stunning 97-82 loss to Croatia in the opening basketball group match last night, writes Greg Campbell for AOC.

The 15 point loss shocked the Australian team as they played Croatia three times in the lead-up to the Olympics with the Europeans winning two tight games and the Australians one.

The energetic Croatians played a fast, up tempo game and were deadly from outside the arc, particularly in the first half, sinking seven from eight attempts, compared to Australia's two from 10 attempts, to open up a game winning 47-31 half-time lead.

"It was a very disappointing result. We weren't expecting that. But we are not about to roll over and cry about it," said a defiant Nielsen.

"We hurt ourselves as we weren't as fluent as we have been in recent lead-up games.

"Our build-up to this point had been pretty good and we can't hang our heads down now. It's a five game tournament and we are just one game down with four to play," he added.

Coach Brian Goorjian used a full bag of defensive and attacking measures in an attempt to temper the Croatian assault and spark his mis-firing attack, but the Croatians countered his every move and proved too hot to handle.

"Croatia manhandled us physically inside and totally dominated in the half court," lamented Goorjian. "We had played them three times recently and our performance was a surprise. Now the ball is in our court to fight back," he added.

In a tough group this game was viewed as one Australia needed to win, but the Boomers were inexplicably poor almost from the opening whistle, meekly succumbing 97-82 against an unfancied Croatian side in a rebuilding phase.

With reigning Olympic champions Argentina, European title-holders Russia, Lithuania and Iran to come, Australia is going to have to improve markedly to get the minimum two wins they need to have a chance of reaching the quarter-finals.

The Boomers were a shadow of the team that pushed the United States and the Argentines all the way in impressive practice game performances, repeatedly breaking down on defence and showing little imagination offensively.

Captain Matt Nielsen led Australia with 13 points, but Croatia scored almost at will throughout the contest.

Argentina are next up for Australia on Tuesday night and the South Americans will also be smarting after an upset defeat to Lithuania tonight.

Any more showings like this will have the Australians on track for a swift exit out of the tournament.

With everything going through centre Andrew Bogut’s hands early on, the Boomers actually made a confident start.

The big man’s pass out of a double-team led to a CJ Bruton three-pointer to open the scoring and Bogut then made two nice moves to give Australia a 7-5 lead.

But coach Brian Goorjian took out Bogut, Bruton and Nielsen halfway through the term and some turnovers and poor shot selection allowed Croatia to gain control.

At quarter-time the Europeans led 21-14 before five quick points to start the second quarter blew their lead out to 12 points and the Australians looked rattled.

The Boomers’ defence was in disarray and consecutive three-point plays by Croatian captain Nikola Prkacin extended the lead to 18 points against a strangely lethargic Australia.

A Bruton runner on the buzzer gave Croatia a well-deserved 47-31 lead at the main break.

Australia showed a small amount of fight early in the third term, but they were never able to get back into the game and trailed by 20 points at the final change.

The final quarter was a Croatian cakewalk against an Australian side that needs to find a spark in a hurry.

A shell-shocked Goorjian made no effort to sugarcoat the performance after the game and knows he only has a short time to try to pick up his team and restore some confidence.

“We’ve got four more games to play (in the group stages) and we’ve got to move on and move forward,” he said.

“Our lead-up to this was good and we played two quality teams and didn’t get dominated in the fashion we did tonight.

“What we’ve talked about coming into the tournament is we’ve got to defend and tonight Croatia man-handled us physically inside and totally dominated us in the half court.”

Nielsen was equally as stunned as his coach after the game.

“Obviously it’s a very disappointing result for us,” he said.

“It’s not what we expected coming into this (press conference) room right now.

“It is what it is and we’re going to keep moving on and definitely build from here because it’s the only way we can handle it.”


Croatia 97 - Prkacin (16), Banic (16), Tomas (12), Planinic (12), Loncar (10), Ukic (9), Kus (7), Popovic (6), Barac (4), Rozic (3), Nicevic (2) bt
Australia 82 - Nielsen (13), Barlow (12), Bogut (10), Mills (9), Ingles (7), Anstey (6), Redhage (6), Bruton (5), Worthington (4).

See HERE for full statistics and boxscores.