Australia has proven it has what it takes to win a medal at the basketball World Cup by beating European heavyweights Lithuania in the best game of their group to date.
The Boomers downed the world’s fourth-ranked side 82-75 on the Spanish island of Gran Canaria on Tuesday (Wednesday morning AEST).
The match was won in the first half when Australia dominated their more fancied opponents.
The Boomers then weathered a Lithuania storm in the third quarter before winning the final term by one point.
Both teams now have two wins and one loss each, giving Australia a chance to top Group D.
The Boomers got off to a cracking start with veteran Joe Ingles and San Antonio centre Aron Baynes in scintillating form up forward.
The Aussies raced to an 11-4 lead mid-way through the first quarter after Ingles stole an inbound pass and knocked down a three-pointer.
NBA draft pick Dante Exum came off the bench but didn’t make a big impact, the 19-year-old only notching up four minutes of game time.
However, with Ingles and Baynes barely missing, and the defence working overtime, the Aussies finished the first quarter with a 30-20 lead.
The second term was slightly more scrappy but the Boomers maintained their intensity.
Ingles finished the near-perfect first half with another three-pointer on the buzzer to give Australia a 47-28 lead and a 19-point buffer.
The Maccabi Tel Aviv star notched up 14 points for the half to equal Baynes as top scorer.
Lithuania came out firing in the second half, scoring the first 10 points before Matthew Dellavedova got Australia on the scoreboard with a much-needed three-pointer.
The Europeans clawed their way back to within three points but the Boomers rallied late and went into the final term ahead 62-56.
Brad Newley stepped up in the fourth quarter to finish the match with 10 points as Australia hung on, partly due to some brilliant rebounds by Baynes and two clutch free-throws by Ryan Broekhoff with 30 seconds remaining.
Ingles finished the match as the leading Australian scorer with 18 points.
Lithuania’s standout player was Renaldas Seibutis who finished with 21.
But his team was hurt by 22 turnovers to Australia’s 14.
The Boomers also led the 2013 European championship runners-up with 11-4 offensive rebounds.
Australia next plays Mexico on Wednesday and Angola on Thursday.
The knock-out stage starts on the weekend.