The Australian Boomers have today departed the country for their final 2016 Rio Olympic Games preparations, heading to Argentina for the first of up to 6 exhibition games before opening their Olympic campaign on 6 August.
Minus Utah Jazz swingman Joe Ingles, who has remained in Melbourne for the impending birth of his twins, the Boomers squad on the plane to Buenos Aires included both Andrew Bogut and Aleks Maric on the roster. Head coach Andrej Lemanis has secured some seriously tough games as part of the Boomers preparations, and it is exactly the type of competition his side needs ahead of what looms as one of the most competitive basketball events in Olympic games history.
Based in Buenos Aires, the FIBA world number 11 ranked Boomers will take on number 3 ranked Lithuania on July 25 and then world number 4 ranked Argentina the next day who boast a talented, veteran roster. The Boomers then head to Sao Paulo, Brazil to take on the world number 9 ranked Olympic hosts on July 28. Up to three more games are yet to be confirmed for July 30 and July 31 ahead of a final hit-out on August 3 in Olympic city of Rio de Janeiro.
After accounting for the Pac-12 All-Stars in Melbourne in a two-game series, the Boomers will relish the challenge to take on world-class opponents who will also be looking to fine-tune their own Olympic preparations.
Righto Australia, The Boys and I are off ✈️ We are hungry, we are focused and we will represent you all the right way with a lot of Pride and Passion 🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺 See you when we get back #onamission #foraustralia #greenandgold
A photo posted by Patty Mills (@balapat) on Jul 19, 2016 at 8:29pm PDT
The initial draw for the Olympics was widely viewed as being favourable when Australia found themselves pooled alongside Venezuela, China and the USA. However since the addition of Olympic Qualifying Tournament winners France and Serbia who are ranked 5 and 6 in the world respectively, Group A has suddenly become a more difficult group to navigate.
The men's basketball tournament opens with the Boomers taking on a formidable French side which is in great form after they qualified for the Olympics the hard way via winning the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in the Philippines. The Sydney 2000 silver medalists are competing at their second straight Olympics and will be led by a number of NBA stars including Tony Parker (San Antonio Spurs), Boris Diaw (Utah Jazz), Nicolas Batum (Charlotte Hornets), Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz). Former San Antonio Spur Nando de Colo also features for les Bleus as the 2016 Euroleague champion and MVP. France would like their chances of progressing deep into the Olympic tournament, as would fellow Group A contenders Serbia and the USA.
As one of the best teams in Europe, Serbia will be the Boomers second opponent in Rio, with the NBA stars of the USA, China and Venezuela all following to round out the Group A fixture. the importance of Australia winning one, if not two, of their first three games against the strongest teams in Group A will be of paramount importance. Australia have been notoriously slow starters in major competitions, and this will need to change in Rio if they are to have any chance of securing a first ever medal in senior men's competition.
Basketball Australia has confirmed that Fox Sports will not be broadcasting any of the Boomers exhibition games. However there is a chance that games from Argentina and Brazil may be streamed online and will be communicated to the basketball community once confirmed. Please check social media for availability of live stats and live streams on the days of each Boomers exhibition game.
Each and every game of the Australian Boomers at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games will be available via Network Seven’s dedicated website and app ‘Olympics on 7’. For more details visit: www.7rio2016.com.au