Olympics: The Boomers display their grit and hustle, take it up to Team USA

Australia, be proud of your Boomers.

The Boomers were not intimidated at all today as they took it right up to Team USA.

The first quarter saw the Boomers bring it early. They were annoying Team USA - forcing their stars into tough shots and frustration quickly ensued. Carmelo Anthony hit the opening three-point shot in what was a sign of things to come. He kept Team USA close - when others were simply being outworked by their Australian opponents.

Joe Ingles scored the first 5 points for Australia and then Patty Mills joined in the fun. Mills, as per usual, was diving for loose balls and finishing on the offensive end.

Matthew Dellavedova was at his annoying best; frustrating Paul George into a technical foul. A rarity for George, who normally keeps his cool.

Australia pushed out their early lead to an 8 point advantage after 7 minutes of play. The Aussies were playing inspired basketball - their teamwork and chemistry was on another level compared to their USA counterparts.

Bogut was doing a bit of everything - highlighted by this massive block on Kyle Lowry.

.@AndrewBogut with the huge block! Great defence from #AUS #Basketball live on 7 and #7Olympics app https://t.co/oERMVggkwe

— 7Olympics (@7olympics) August 10, 2016

At the first break, it was all tied up at 29.

In the second quarter, coach Andrej Lemanis went to his bench and they provided the goods. Chris Goulding, Brock Motum, Kevin Lisch and Damian Martin all played valuable minutes.

Australia's defence was at its best - forcing USA in a shot-clock violation in the second quarter - just adding more frustration to Team USA.

A ten point run by the Boomers mid-way through the quarter helped them keep USA at bay, leading 41-36. It was Mills, Bogut and Dellavedova leading the way - scoring and dishing out assists.

David Andersen was feeling it too, and his teammates kept feeding him the ball. He had 10 points on 4/4 shooting at the half.

Bogut and Mills had 13 and 15 points respectively, whilst Dellavedova added 9 assists.

For all their great work, Australia were just trying to do too much at times and this was leading to turnovers - 11 at half-time is just far too many for a team playing USA.

This is the first time Team USA has trailed at the half of an Olympic game since 2004. pic.twitter.com/3efXOzvPIu

— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) August 10, 2016

The third quarter began just the way Team USA would've been hoping for. A quick 9-0 run saw USA skip out to a 4-point lead. This is when Team USA usually pulls away and put their opponents to the sword. But not today: the Boomers weathered the storm and gave the USA everything they had.

Mills caught fire and continued to enhance his standing as one of the best Boomers in history. He was hitting threes and driving to the basket with purpose.

USA was struggling to find answers for Australia's hustle. Meanwhile, Melo was single-handedly keeping USA in the contest. At the end of the third, USA led 70-67.

Some great team play by the Aussies:

Popovich would be proud of this play from the #Boomers! #AUS playing great team #basketball https://t.co/6kWDnMga9y

— 7Olympics (@7olympics) August 10, 2016

The fourth quarter was a back and forth battle, with Australia not taking a backwards step. To USA's credit, they didn't either, playing good defence and forcing Australia into rushed shots.

Down the stretch, USA's star power (Anthony finished with 31 points on 9/15 3FG) was just too much for our Boomers. Whilst Melo was hitting his shots, there were too many empty possessions in the final minutes for the Boomers.

Unfortunately, Bogut was beginning to tire late, and coupled with foul trouble for Aron Baynes, Ingles and Andersen, Australia couldn't quite keep up. The most telling stat of the game was the battle of the offensive boards. USA grabbed a massive 21 offensive rebounds, whilst Australia managed just 4. Allowing USA that many second-chance point opportunities will eventually lead to trouble.

Although the Boomers eventually went down 98-88, the message has well and truly been sent to the rest of the world that Australia means business and will not be intimidated or out-worked by anyone.

Andrew Gaze summed it up perfectly:

"One of the all time great performances by an Australian team" - @AndrewGaze10 #Boomers #Basketball https://t.co/CWZTSSwXIb

— 7Olympics (@7olympics) August 10, 2016

Patty Mills was the star for Australia, finishing with 30 points, whilst Dellavedova finished with a double-double of 11 points and 11 assists.

There are plenty of positives to take out of this game and whilst we may have missed out on the major upset, the confidence every single player can take out of this match is invaluable. For the likes of Goulding, Lisch and Martin to go to toe-to-toe with USA will only help them later in the tournament.

The Boomers are on a mission.

Watch the Boomers take on China from 3:15am AEST on Saturday morning.

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