After overpowering China, the Boomers now need to finish strong – wipe the host nation off the court and then get the two-points over Andrei Kirilenko and Russia and they may finish second in Group B behind Spain.
There are no easy games in the knockout stage at the London Olympics – even the US team will face a challenge. If the Boomers were to remain in fourth in the standings, a matchup against LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant and co would be the ‘reward.’ Finish second and the likely opponent is Argentina. France will complete Group A second only to the US as all that is of them is Tunisia and Nigeria. Play the US and you’re out – let’s not kid each other. Take on Argentina, the bronze medalists in 2008, and despite it being a very tough game, it’s winnable. I believe France would be a harder matchup.
Here’s how the Boomers can finish second.
The top four nations of each group go through to the knockout stage. Russia sits on top with six points. They play Spain in their next outing: I am predicating a Spanish victory. That would mean Russia will be on seven points (as teams get one point for a loss) and Spain, also on same the points standing as Russia, would move to the top of the table.
Brazil on five points plays China: a win to the South Americans is on the cards. Therefore, Brazil would be third as the Russians have a greater points difference.
Here is where Australia comes in. Their next opponent is Great Britain, an average lineup at best however they do possess Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng. The Boomers must win and must win by a sizeable margin. A triumph over the Brits moves Australia to six points yet remaining in fourth spot.
This is the interesting part: the final games of the group stage.
Game one: Russia v Australia. This should be an exciting game as the Europeans have a considerable arsenal. If, if they are to win this game then the Boomers will be on eight points – Russia will also be on eight. The big win over Great Britain combined with a nice victory here may have Australia sitting on top of the Russians.
Game two: the groups only other important matchup – Spain v Brazil. This is likely to go right down to the final seconds. Spain should win, should being the key word, and that would see them finish with 10 points and Brazil on eight.
So how does Australia end as the groups number two seed? It will come down the points difference of each of the teams as mentioned earlier. The Boomers are -36 points behind Russia and -4 to Brazil.
Improved play, some luck and with the Spaniards lending a hand, the Boomers could well be a step closer to the dais.