Game Day Preview: One last dance for qualified Airbnb Boomers

Game Day Preview: One last dance for qualified Airbnb Boomers

There is one more dance in the studio before hitting the main stage, and the Boomers’ partner will be Angola for that final go-around.

By Paulo Kennedy - Guest Writer during the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.

Of course, the Angolans are already etched into Australian basketball folklore thanks to their 74-69 upset at the 1986 world cup – in Spain - and I'm sure this Aussie team doesn’t want to emulate that feat.

This time around the Airbnb Boomers are playing from a position of privilege, against an opponents playing for their lives.

Today’s gritty win over a tough Mexican team ensured that, on either Saturday or Sunday, our boys will play a knockout final in Barcelona for a place in the quarter-finals.

Making the top eight of a FIBA Basketball World Cup is a feat that should not be underestimated.

It would be the third time in the past four major tournaments the Boomers have progressed that far, and while we all wish to see the green and gold on the dais, being a consistent top eight team in the world’s second biggest sport is the perfect stepping stone.

So how does that impact this game against Angola?

For starters, where the Boomers finish in their pool will have a lot to do with the result of the Lithuania v Slovenia game, so this clash doesn’t have the dire consequences of the four that came before it.

Secondly, you can be sure Andrej Lemanis’ staff will be closely monitoring the physical condition of his players to see who needs rest after four hard-fought contests in five days.

Joe Ingles, Aron Baynes and Matthew Dellavedova have all averaged over 25 minutes a game so far, with 34-year-old David Andersen not far behind.

They will also be assessing who needs more court time to get their mojo flowing, so all 12 players can contribute strongly when called upon in a cutthroat knockout game.

Cam Bairstow, Dante Exum, Chris Goulding and Nate Jawai have played the fewest minutes so far this tournament, so they might possibly receive more court time than usual.

The coaches will also be using this game to sharpen certain areas and perhaps trial some others.

Potential knockout round opponents include the Dominican Republic and the USA, so gauging some defensive strategies against the athletic Angolan team might be a handy precursor to those games.

The African champs are at their best when the move the ball in the halfcourt, hitting on-balls at pace, opening up driving lanes from where they dump off to their big men or find open shooters.

Trialling different methods to both limit those ball rotations and contain explosive drivers could provide value in the elimination stages.

The Boomers will also need to cover mobile stretch forwards in Reggie Moore and Eduardo Mingas, swarm on the high-post shooting of centres Valdelicio Joaquim and Yanick Moreira, and be wary of the Angola’s ever-aggressive guards who picked up the defence in their narrow loss to Slovenia.

Most importantly though, they simply must emerge from the game intact, because come this weekend, it’s business time.

You can watch every second of the Airbnb Boomers V Angola LIVE on ABC2 at 9:26PM AEST TONIGHT.