Sport Olympics Impressive Boomers surge into Olympic semi-finals with another easy win
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Impressive Boomers surge into Olympic semi-finals with another easy win

Aron Baynes was one of Australia's best with 16 points. Photo: Getty
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Boomers star Matthew Dellavedova insists the team has bigger fish to fry after thumping long-time Olympic rivals Lithuania 90-64 in their quarter-final clash in Rio.

Led by NBA players Patty Mills (24 points), Dellavedova (15) and centre Aron Baynes (16), the Boomers increased their lead at every change to advance to the last four where they will meet the winner of Serbia and Croatia.

It is the first time the Australian men’s team has made the medal rounds of the Olympic tournament since 2000.

“We’ve been focused on the gold medal for so long. You know, this win, obviously we’re happy with it, but it is a just another step in the journey,” Dellavedova told the Seven Network.

“We will rest up, get the recovery and get ready for the next game.”

Swingman Joe Ingles also toed the company line after the match.

“We came into the tournament with a goal in mind and we haven’t achieved that yet. So we will stay level-headed through it all and we will enjoy this,” he said.

Australia's Aron Baynes dunks against Lithuania during the quarterfinal match. Photo: Getty/pool
Australia’s Aron Baynes dunks against Lithuania during the quarter-final match. Photo: Getty

“We will obviously watch the tape and recover a little bit and then focus on whoever we are going to play after tomorrow.”

The Boomers have been beaten twice by Lithuania in Olympic bronze medal matches (Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000).

This time they were not to be denied, as the back court pair of a well-rested Mills and Dellavedova dominated from beyond the arc against the third-ranked team in the world.

Mills is the tournament’s third-highest scorer (106 points), averaging 21.2 points per game.

Matthew Dellavedova #8 of Australia looks to drive the ball against Mantas Kalnietis.
Matthew Dellavedova starred again for the Boomers. Photo: Getty

Australia were hot early, with Milwaukee-bound Dellavedova opening proceedings with consecutive three-pointers, while Mills racked up 11 points for the quarter to lead 26-17 at the first break.

Unlike the previous night when the Opals appeared to get a raw deal from the referees, it was the Boomers who capitalised on some generous calls, extending the margin out to 48-30 at half-time as they forced Lithuania into numerous turnovers.

The Europeans, who had reached five of the past six Olympic semi-finals, made a strong start to the third term to reduce the deficit to 14. That’s as close as they got, however, as Baynes, Mills and bench players Damian Martin and Ryan Broekhoff helped Australia to a 27-point lead at the final change.

From there it was all about conservation, with the Boomers cruising home to somewhat erase the pain of the Opals’ loss to Serbia the previous night.

The team wasn’t bothered by a passionate Lithuanian crowd – many spectators travel the world following their national team in its national sport.

Big man Andrew Bogut said they blocked out the whistling, jeering booing and horn blowing antics of the opposition supporters.

“We didn’t hear it, we’re locked into what we’re trying to do,” Bogut said.

The 31-year-old, who was traded to the Dallas Mavericks last month after four seasons with the Golden State Warriors, put the Boomers’ strong form down to financial security.

“We have got guys who are pretty settled financially and pretty settled with their current team … and we are playing the right way.”

The result has made the US media stand to attention.

The Wall St Journal said Australia’s basketballers “take pride in being annoying”.

Australia pushed the USA in their pool match last week, sparking attention in the country where many of the players have high–profile NBA roles.

The Journal says the Australians are “the guys who everyone wants on their teams, they’re selfless, they’re role players and they’re not intimidated”.

They’re even “the country that could beat the US in the Olympics”.

-with agencies

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