Boomers advance to World Cup quarter-finals
After battling past the Dominican Republic to register a fourth straight win and a 4-0 unbeaten streak at the 2019 FIBA World Cup, France's thrilling 3-point victory over Lithuania just hours later, assured the Boomers a place in the quarterfinals.
France managed to get past Lithuania thanks to big performances from their superstars, including Rudy Gobert, Nicolas Batum, Nando de Colo and Evan Fournier. They were breathtaking in the first half, before holding off a final quarter surge from Lithuania.
Gobert had his hands full with Domantas Sabonis and Jonas Valanciunas, but was an exemplary defensive anchor. De Colo's shooting was scintillating - he finished with 21 points which included a dagger three in the final minutes, while Fournier was a class above in compiling a game-high 24 points. Batum contributed 12 points, and there's no doubt the French are going to be a handful for the Boomers.
As the only two teams that remain undefeated in Group L in the second round, France and Australia have both secured places in the quarter-finals. Their victories ensured that both Lithuania and the Dominican Republic would be relegated to the classification games for positions 9-16, while setting the stage for a battle that will determine first place in the group.
The top two teams from Group L -- Australia and France -- will take on the top two teams from Group K in the quarter-finals, as the event finally moves into the knockout stages. Group G currently features an unbeaten Team USA (4-0), with the Czech Republic (3-1), Brazil (3-1) and Greece (3-2) all still chances to progress to the next stage.
The plucky Czech Republic have been somewhat of a surprise. They advanced to the second round and went on to dismantle the previously unbeaten Brazilians to open up the entire group. They next take on Greece in what is a must-win game for both countries. Meanwhile, Team USA closes out the second stage group play against Brazil, and can lock up first place in the group with a win.
There are so many permutations as to how the teams could finish, not a single country has yet been ruled out of progressing to the next round. Brazil's big loss to the Czech's has them on the back foot if a three-way tiebreaker came into play. The USA and Czech Republic have their destinies in their own hands - if they both win, they both advance.
The top team from Group K would play the second-placed team from Group L and vice versa. As it currently stands, the USA are in the box seat to finish on top.
While Australia's win against USA two weeks ago in Melbourne, has already shown everyone that the Americans are beatable, both France and Australia are likely to want to avoid them until the medal rounds.
The last time Australia and France met was at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, with Andrew Bogut, Patty Mills and Matthew Dellavedova putting on a masterclass in a landslide 87-66 win. This time around, France is one of the better teams of the competition, along with Serbia on the other side of the draw.
It sets the stage for a massive clash, with the Boomers hoping to one again reproduce their best.
Australian Boomers schedule for 2019 FIBA World Cup: (All times AEST)
September 9: Boomers vs France (10:00pm)
September 10 & 11: Quarter-Finals
September 13: Semi-Finals
September 15: Medal Games