Mills’ stuns in ‘unreal’ Boomers’ history
Australia has made its first piece of history in search of its first international medal, defeating Lithuania 87-82 at the FIBA World Cup in China.
It’s the first time the Boomers have been able to go 3-0 to start a World Cup event, passing through the preliminary stages of the event undefeated with wins over Canada, Senegal and now Lithuania as the side’s confidence grows in search of a breakthrough medal.
A win over Team USA in Melbourne before the World Cup and some brilliant form has the Boomers riding high and the side move into the next round with a perfect record.
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After both sides had already booked their spot in the next round of the tournament, where they will play the Dominican Republic and France, the match was all important with the winner taking an extra win into the next round.
The Boomers conceded the first two baskets but were then in full control.
After starting the third quarter leading 68-60, Australia appeared to be in the box seat.
But Lithuania are ranked sixth in the world for a reason as Australia gave up the lead with six minutes remaining.
Things got worse for the Boomers with Andrew Bogut was fouled out with more than five minutes left to play.
Australia’s accuracy in shooting abandoned them with the game on the line as Lithuania looked strong.
But Australia weren’t about to let this game slide without fighting back.
Patty Mills scored a game-high 23 points.Source:AFP
The Boomers Patty Mills sank seven points in the final three minutes, including a massive three-pointer with just over 30 seconds left.
?? @Patty_Mills clutch!? #AustraliaGotGame #FIBAWC pic.twitter.com/vo3Ohm59Pj
“When the game was on the line, Patty Mills said give me the ball,” Fox Sports commentator Brenton Speed said. “And he shot that on a seven-footer on the close out and he knew he had just enough room to get it over the top.”
Heal added: “And to not be affected one little bit by a seven footer jumping at him.”
Massive three from #Mills just when the #Boomers needed it most – the guy’s a class act. Huge result for #Australia against a genuine power & nicely placed for second phase. #FIBAWC #LTUAUS #LTUvAUS
Boomers legend Shane Heal said the Boomers were incredible, especially early after sinking plenty of three-pointers.
In fact, it was the reason behind Australia’s win with the Boomers sinking 42 per cent to 27 from outside the arc.
Heal said “if the Boomers can shoot like this throughout the tournament, they can beat anyone”.
“This has been an amazing win for the Boomers,” Heal said. “The way they came out 52 points in the first half, on fire, and couldn’t find a way to make it fit and get a stranglehold on the momentum against a quality team and come away with a five point win has been fantastic.”
Australia had the perfect start to their grudge match against Lithuania with a 27-19 lead after the first quarter and 52-41 at halftime.
The Boomers started perfectly with Aron Baynes starring, pulling down a massive six rebounds in the first term.
Aron Baynes goes to the basket.Source:AFP
The Phoenix Suns star finished with a game-high 13 rebounds, including six offensive boards, as well as 21 points.
Only Mills scored more points than Baynes with his late burst seeing him score 23 points.
Asked post-match about the big man, Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis said he was “phenomenal”.
“He always seems to get up for Lithuania too, he enjoys the challenge of going up against some true big bodies,” Lemanis said. “In international basketball, you need the size, you need the beef and there are some big men playing this game and we’re thankful we have some skilled big men playing for us.”
After the first, the Fox Sports commentators were starting to believe.
“That is a dream first quarter from the Boomers and they lead it by eight,” Speed said.
“What a start for Australia,” Heal added. “It’s nice in a big game like that to see the ball go through the net, obviously for the scoreboard ticking over but for the confidence as much as anything else. Five from eight from the three point line.”
Australia was thrilled with the victory with plenty of support for the Boomers historic result.
Great half of basketball. Plenty of work to do but unreal so far! #boomers
Let’s Go Boomers #FIBAWC #boomers
Boomers beat Lithuania 87-82!! #FIBAWC Patty Mills just edged out by Steve Smith tonight in hero stakes #ashes #boomers
In @Patty_Mills we trust ????!! This team is on a mission #boomers #FIBAWC
If this was Socceroos or Matildas winning all 3 pool games of a World Cup, it would be front & back page news and all over TV & radio. Wake up Australia & get behind the #Boomers. Long way to go but it’s a phenomenal start to this @FIBAWC. #GoBoomers @BasketballAus
Before the match, former Boomers hardman and member of Australia’s support staff Mark Bradtke said it was time to turn the tables after experiencing his share of basketball heartbreak against Lithuania.
The four-time Olympian and three-time NBL champion has felt the full force of the tiny European country’s remarkable success, with two of Bradtke’s three bronze medal game losses coming against them.
Jock Landale scores in Australia’s sweet victory.Source:AFP
A Soviet Union team full of Lithuania talent — including current star Domantas Sabonis’s legendary father Arvydas — also beat Bradtke’s Boomers in his 1988 Olympic debut in Seoul.
“I try not to say ‘back in my day’,” Bradtke said. “You don’t want to do that, plus in Rio (2016 Olympics) they had a confrontation there (where the Boomers comfortably beat Lithuania in the quarter-finals).
“The rivalry is known; I think it’s Australia’s best rivalry. They always seemed to have the edge on us.”
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