Hungry Jack's NBL
Boomers Breakdown: Assessing Australia’s DOMINANT win over Argentina
By Liam Santamaria
It’s all happening!
The Boomers are into the semis, Patty’s off to Brooklyn and Jock Landale has finally secured an NBA deal.
Yep, as the Spurs wave goodbye to one Aussie they’re welcoming in another, with Landale joining San Antonio on a multi-year deal.
With all that going on, it has been a whirlwind 24 hours for our Boomers in Tokyo.
Most importantly, though, they brought their A game in last night’s quarter-final – wiping the floor with Argentina 97-59.
It was an emotional night as the international basketball community paid respect to a legend and, for the fifth time in history, the Boomers advanced to the final four of the Olympics.
Here’s how it all went down…
First things first, these Boomers are an incredible defensive unit.
After their first game of the tournament – that win over Nigeria – I wrote this to describe the identity of this team: The Boomers can score, don’t get me wrong, but they’re led by their ability to be an absolute nightmare to score against.
This is becoming truer and truer with each passing game. And it was a defensive masterclass over the final three quarters last night that launched them into the Olympic semi finals.
Trailing 18-10 early in the contest, the Aussies cranked up their D to work their way back and, eventually, gain control of the game.
It was led, as usual, by Aussie Matisse.
With Thybulle getting his hands on everything and the Boomers, collectively, cranking into lockdown mode, Argentina’s offence began gasping for air.
They scored a measly 11 points in both the second and fourth quarters and just 15 in the third as the Boomers turned a nip and tuck affair into an absolute belting.
One thing that also helped, just quietly was Argentine coach Sergio Hernandez sitting dangerous guard Nicolas Laprovittola for almost the entire second quarter.
Laprovittola torched the Boomers in the opening term, scoring nine first-quarter points, but sat over eight straight minutes in the second period as the Boomers gained control.
In fact, when Laprovittola was on the floor in the first half Argentina outscored Australia by five. Without him they were outscored by 11. Sitting him all that time was undoubtedly a mistake.
Sure, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Gabriel Deck had some moments later in the game, but it was Laprovittola who was giving us the most amount of trouble. Luckily, his time on the bench served to cool his jets.
Exum was terrific again last night as he paired with Thybulle to bring energy at both ends of the floor.
It really is brilliant to watch the talented Aussie playing so well. Without a shadow of a doubt, he has been one of the stories of the tournament from a Boomers perspective.
What I’m especially loving is the improvement Exum’s showing from one game to the next. The coaching staff and his teammates have clearly spoken with him about playing with greater control and he has heeded their advice, all while maintaining his trademark attacking style.
The South East Melbourne Phoenix co-owner put up nine points, five rebounds and three assists on Tuesday night – without missing a shot or committing a single turnover – and the Boomers outscored Argentina by 31 freakin’ points during his 21 minutes on the floor!
In fact, it would be easy to present a case that Exum’s high-energy play either side of three-quarter time was the spark that blew the game apart.
The NBA guard scored a crucial bucket on the three-quarter time buzzer and then opened the fourth with this all-time Olympic banger!
Ugh! Come get some!
That dunk was the beginning of a dominant 19-0 run for the Boomers to open the final quarter (which was actually a 25-0 run either side of three quarter-time).
An absolute game changer last night, Danté’s been brilliant throughout the tournament thus far. That said, we’ll need him to be even better tomorrow.
YOU KNOW THE DRILL… THIS IS WHERE WE PRAISE JOCK LANDALE AND NICK KAY
Speaking of guys who are straight-up getting it done, let’s continue to pile on the love for these two bloody legends.
With Brian Goorjian understandably hesitant to play Duop Reath, Landale and Kay are the only genuine bigs in the Boomers rotation right now and they are handling the responsibility beautifully.
The ink was still drying on Landale’s NBA contract last night and the big fella took the confidence from signing that deal and brought it to the court. Landale put his versatile skillset on display against Aregentina, posting 12 points, seven boards, five assists and three steals in a tremendous performance.
We all knew he was bound for the NBA this off-season and, with the news breaking this morning, the reigning Larry Sengstock Medallist will face his new head coach in tomorrow’s semi-final.
In terms of Kay… well, he was his usual reliable self in his first Olympic quarter-final.
The two-time NBL champ wasn’t quite able to find the mark from long range, but he did all the right things elsewhere on the floor as he notched up an impressive double-double.
In fact, I might shut up about Kay at this point because the legend, Michele Timms, said it best when she posted this on Twitter last night…
This was a beautiful moment of appreciation for a living legend of international hoops.
CLIMBING THE MOUNTAIN
All of which brings us to this: a semi-final match-up with Team USA.
The Boomers are now faced with two enormous challenges, neither of which the men’s national basketball team has ever been able to overcome.
I talk, of course, of a) advancing through a semi-final and b) beating the United States at either a World Cup (previously called the World Championships) or an Olympics.
The Boomers have lost all five of their previous semi-final appearances at major international tournaments and are 0-10 in top four playoffs across the journey (having lost all of their bronze medal matches as well).
Let’s not go right through the history. It’s way too painful.
In terms of the second challenge, the Boomers are 0-15 against Team USA in meetings at either a World Cup or Olympics.
Sure, we’ve beaten them the last two times we’ve met, but both of those were exhibition games. This is the real deal.
With all of that in mind, tomorrow’s game represents a chance for the Boomers to create history. A chance, to put it simply, to pull off the greatest win in the history of Australian men’s basketball.
And you know what? With the way this team is playing… with the way Goorj and his staff are so expertly steering them… with the support of every past Boomer… and with all of us cheering them on from home… they can absolutely do it.
Either way, they Boomers have been magnificent in Tokyo. They’re one win away from a first-ever medal.
Two more from gold.