"Big decisions are ahead" for Boomers following World Cup disappointment
The Australian Boomers crashed out of World Cup contention in ugly fashion, and coach Brian Goorjian says change is coming ahead of next year's Olympics.
Just minutes after Australia’s World Cup hopes had been dashed, Boomers coach Brian Goorjian was already looking ahead.
“It starts now, preparation for the Olympics,” Goorjian said.
He surely wasn’t the only one having those thoughts. Last night’s 91-80 loss to Slovenia, which ended Australia’s hopes of progressing to the quarter-finals, was the sort of game that left you questioning everything.
It was ugly. It was painful. It was disappointing.
With next year’s Paris Olympics fast approaching, it could also prove to be the end of a golden era for the Boomers. While the team still has one more game to play in this tournament, a dead rubber against Georgia on Sunday night, Goorjian was already hinting at change ahead of what is expected to be the most competitive international tournament in history.
“I think the youth of this thing is for real, we’re changing styles of play, and again, we’ve made some moves coming into this – the Delly, the Baynes,” Goorjian said. “Some big decisions are ahead, but again, I like what’s in front of me.”
The future was supposed to be now for these Boomers, who added star point guard Josh Giddey to the core that claimed a historic bronze medal at the 2020 Olympics. They came into the World Cup as one of the medal favourites, and a genuine challenger to the United States for the title. Instead, they will leave with their worst finish at a major tournament since the 2014 World Cup, with ninth place now the best they can hope for.
“When you get in a game like this and there’s a lot of pressure, who you are comes out, and we’re a step off it right now,” Goorjian admitted after the loss.
There were ominous signs for the Australians right from the opening tip, with Duop Reath tapping the ball straight into the hands of Slovenian star Luka Dončić for a layup to open the scoring. Things only got worse from there, as Slovenia raced away to an early advantage and led from start to finish, securing their spot in the quarter-finals in the process.
The Boomers somehow stayed close for the majority of the game. As late as the fourth quarter, they trailed by just two points, and should have been right in the contest. They weren’t, though – for whatever reason, it just never felt like they would get ahead.
“We were playing from behind all night trying to dig ourselves out of a hole that felt like it kept getting deeper and deeper, and every time we made a run it was just hard to sustain,” Giddey said postgame.
The Dončić problem remains unsolved
Stop Luka, stop Slovenia. That was meant to be the equation, and the solution to beating this team. It worked at the Tokyo Olympics, where the Boomers held off Slovenia to claim that famous bronze medal, and it would work again here.
Except, it didn’t.
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