FIBA – The Australian Boomers got a jolt of confidence on Saturday after completing a 98-94 upset over Team USA in a pre-World Cup friendly. This is the first time USA Basketball has had to swallow the bitter pill of defeat on Australian soil, spoiling their previously-pristine 30-0 record Down Under.
The Boomers, veterans and promising young projects alike, played like the game was for the FIBA World Cup gold medal. Patty Mills turned in an inspired 30-point performance, while Aron Baynes and Andrew Bogut battled their younger counterparts in the paint to contest almost every rebound available. This resulted in a 41-35 rebounding edge for the Boomers at the end of the game.
Aggressiveness by “Smokin'” Joe Ingles set the tone for the Aussies, moving his teammates to a more spirited approach to the game. They brought the hustle in this one and it paid off with a new chapter entered into the history books.
Harrison Barnes, Marcus Smart, Khris Middleton, Donovan Mitchell and Myles Turner started for Team USA. The Americans have yet to find a consistent starting five. This is also not the first time they’ve looked shaky in pre-World Cup preparation. Actually, this iteration of Team USA has been criticized one of their weakest contingents to-date.
While there are a lot of new faces on the USA Basketball roster, which by the way has yet to be trimmed down to its final 12-man form, it is in the good hands of legendary coach Gregg Popovich.
One thing is for sure, the aura of the USA Basketball Juggernaut has faded to some degree. And like what the Boomers have shown in this tuneup game, sometimes if you want it more, you can be the David that will slay the American Goliath.
There’s still time and obviously, you cannot take Team USA for granted. No team will, at least not at the FIBA World Cup. Not even after an embarrassing loss like this one. They’re still the team to beat. The difference between now and the past is that there is an air of greater hope of being able to beat them.