The Australian Men’s National Basketball Team will be heading to Rio de Janeiro next season for the 2016 Olympics.
Fox Sports reports that Australia secured its spot in the Olympics with a 89-79 victory over New Zealand on Tuesday. Golden State Warriors center Andrew Bogut, who was dealing with back problems, produced a double-double with 10 points along with 10 caroms to lead the Boomers. Bogut also swatted away three Tall Black shots.
Bogut’s gutsy performance drew rave reviews from Australian coach Andrej Lemanis.
“You cannot underestimate the significance of his performance. Physically, he was in significant pain. He could’ve said: ‘It’s too much for me’ and everyone would have understood.”
Bogut, who saw just 20 minutes of action, finished the game with a plus-22 rating and an efficiency rating of 19. He shot 4-of-7 from the floor and was 2-of-2 from the charity stripe.
Cleveland Cavaliers reserve guard Matthew Dellavedova added 14 points and five assists while San Antonio backup point guard Patty Mills contributed nine points, five rebounds, and four dimes for the Aussies.
While Dellavedova’s offensive contribution was important, it was his defense on New Zealand star guard Corey Webster that enabled the Boomers to control the game. Dellavedova held Webster to just 16 points on 7-of-24 shooting, including 2-of-10 from beyond the arc. Webster tallied 22 points in the Kiwis 71-59 loss to the Boomers in Game 1 of the two game series.
The Boomers are the third team to qualify for Rio, along with host Brazil and the United States, which earned the automatic invite by claiming the Gold at the 2014 World Cup. The 2016 Games will mark the Aussies 12th consecutive trip to the Olympics — they finished fourth at the event three times, with the last time occurring in 1988.
Australia could make some noise in the Olympics, as they have several current and former NBA players on its roster. In addition to Bogut, Dellavedova, and Mills, the Boomers roster includes Chicago Bulls forward Cameron Bairstow, as well as former NBA’ers Brad Newley, David Anderson, and Nathan Jawai. Dante Exum (Utah Jazz), Joe Ingles (Utah Jazz) and Arron Baynes (Detroit Pistons) didn’t participate in the qualifier, though they could play in the Olympics.
New Zealand still has a chance to qualify for the Olympics, if they are able to win one of the three repechage tournaments next year, according to Stuff New Zealand. And Bogut believes it is a real possibility that the Tall Blacks find their way to Rio.
“It will be tough for them. It all depends if [Oklahoma City Thunder center] Stevie Adams puts his hand up and plays. They definitely have a puncher’s chance. They play very well together and have a unique style. They might upset a couple of teams from Europe in that tournament and you never know what can happen.”
Notable players that are currently or have in the recent past played for Tall Blacks include Thomas Abercombie, who played collegiately at Washington State and with the Phoenix Suns 2013 summer league squad as well as University of Hawaii star Isaac Fotu and former NBA player Kirk Penney.
[Photo by Hagan Hopkins / Getty Images]