Boomers tick off first big Olympics test

2 months ago 16
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The Boomers have kick-started their Tokyo Olympics with an 84-67 win over Nigeria in Group B.

As has been the case for over a decade now, veteran point guard and Australian flag bearer Patty Mills was the star for the Boomers in his fourth Olympics campaign.

The 32-year-old led the scoring for the Aussies, finishing the match with 25 points and six assists along with four steals on the defensive end.

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Nic Kay added 12 points, while Dante Exum and Joe Ingles both contributed with 11.

Patty Mills of Australia takes on the defence of Josh Okogie of Nigeria during the preliminary rounds of the Men's Basketball match between Australia and Nigeria on day two of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Saitama Super Arena on July 25, 2021 in Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images) (Getty)

The match started off with neither side able to find an edge with scores locked at 23 apiece after the first quarter, before the Boomers edged away during the second term.

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With the Boomers holding a 43-40 lead at the end of the first half, they then turned it up on the defensive end in the third quarter by conceding only two points through the opening five minutes of play as Nigeria struggled to score.

That defensive effort allowed the Boomers to skip out to a nine-point lead, which gave the Aussies a comfortable cushion to work with for the remainder of the match.

While Australia produced a dominant fourth-quarter performance by outscoring Nigeria by 11 points, they may count themselves a tad lucky with their opponents having a horrible outing from the free-throw line.

Nigeria finished the match 12/24 (50 per cent) from the free-throw line, with the bulk of the poor shooting coming through the first three quarters. Australia only led by six points at the end of the third quarter.

Dante Exum of Australia takes on the defence of Jahlil Okafor of Nigeria during the preliminary rounds of the Men's Basketball match between Australia and Nigeria on day two of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Saitama Super Arena on July 25, 2021 in Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images) (Getty)

"This is a team effort to get it under our belt," Mills said after the match.

"The moto of what we're trying to do here is a team effort and everyone played their part.

"A great team effort tonight. We know this is going to be a grind - game by game and our preparation was good.

"We always talk about building, game by game and practice by practice. There's a lot of things we can take out from this game and improve on."

The Australian squad's goal is to improve on their performance at Rio 2016, where they controversially lost to Spain in the final few seconds of the bronze medal match.

Like the Australian squad, Nigeria's was also stacked with NBA players.

Patty Mills of Australia drives to the basket during the preliminary rounds of the Men's Basketball match between Australia and Nigeria on day two of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Saitama Super Arena on July 25, 2021 in Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images) (Getty)

Nigeria's 12-man squad bolsters eight current NBA players. Precious Achiuwa (Miami Heat), Chimezie Metu (Sacramento Kings), Jordan Nwora (Milwaukee Bucks), Jahlil Okafor (Detroit Pistons), Josh Okogie (Minnesota Timberwolves), KZ Okpala (Heat), Miye Oni (Utah Jazz) and Gabe Vincent (Heat).

Nigeria's head coach Mike Brown is also no stranger to the basketball world, with nearly two decades of coaching experience in the NBA.

The Nigerian head coach at one stage was the man in charge of the LA Lakers during the Kobe Bryant era back in the 2011-12 NBA season.

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Matisse Thybulle of Australia slam dunks during the preliminary rounds of the Men's Basketball match between Australia and Nigeria on day two of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Saitama Super Arena on July 25, 2021 in Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images) (Getty)
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