Boomers shock US stars in pre-Olympics warm-up match

Australia's Dante Exum fends of the US's Damian Lillard as the Boomers down the American team 91-83.

Australia's Dante Exum fends of the US's Damian Lillard as the Boomers down the American team 91-83. Photo: Getty

The Australian Boomers have overcome the early loss of Aron Baynes to post a famous 91-83 win over the US in an Olympic warm-up match in Las Vegas.

Baynes went down clutching his right knee following a collision in the opening minutes of Tuesday’s match.

The Toronto Raptors centre played no further part.

The Boomers trailed by 11 points late in the second quarter, but produced a mesmerising second half to snatch victory.

Australian guard Patty Mills, who scored the winning buzzer-beater three-pointer against Argentina two days earlier, was again influential with 22 points, while Joe Ingles finished with 17 points.

Philadelphia 76ers guard Matisse Thybulle was impressive at both ends of the court with 12 points, three assists, three steals, and two blocks for Australia while Melbourne United sharpshooter Chris Goulding (11 points) lifted when the Boomers needed him in the third quarter.

Nick Kay played a key role with eight points and nine rebounds, and Duop Reach (nine points) helped fill the void left by Baynes.

Boomers coach Brian Goorjian is confident the injury to Baynes is only minor.

“He just hit knees and it’s real sore, so at this stage we didn’t want to risk it,” Goorjian said.

“But it’s not a twist or a turn or ligaments. Just a bang there, a bruise.

“We’re feeling good about him. Just a temporary situation, so he’ll be good.”

The US lost to Nigeria 90-87 in their first warm-up game, and the defeat to the Boomers means they have slumped to back-to-back losses in a worrying sign as they bid to snare a fourth straight Olympic gold medal.

Portland star Damian Lillard scored 22 points on 6-of-11 shooting from long range and Kevin Durant nailed four long bombs on the way to 17 points, but the US struggled for fluency against a dogged Boomers defence.

Veteran Boomer Joe Ingles said his team doesn’t fear any opponent.

“No disrespect, they (the US) are a hell of a team. But we came in here expecting to win the game, and that’s what we did,” Ingles said.

“We played the USA in the quarter-finals in 2008. Goorjian threw me in for a couple of minutes at the end, and it was an intimidating, nervous feeling.

“Whereas now when we’ve walked into these games for the last few years, you can put any team in front of us and we expect to win the game.

“Any win at this point is nice. We’re going to come out the same tomorrow and try to beat Nigeria.”

Ingles started the match in hot form, nailing three long bombs to help give the Boomers a surprise 13-7 lead.

The second quarter was a defensive struggle until the US pulled away late for a 46-37 lead at half-time.

Durant and Lillard nailed two three-pointers each early in the third quarter to keep the Boomers at bay, but the Australians went on a 19-6 run to finish the term to take a shock 69-64 lead into the last.

Sharpshooter Chris Goulding was crucial in the run with two three-pointers, including a mesmerising buzzer-beater that lifted the Boomers’ bench to its feet.

Durant stayed hot from long range to help the US retake the lead with less than five minutes remaining in the match.

But Mills stepped up to the plate when it mattered most, scoring a series of clutch baskets to help guide the Boomers to victory.

The Boomers beat the US 98-94 in an exhibition game in Melbourne in 2019 but their latest victory on the eve of the Olympics carries more significance.


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