Boomers' London legacy to continue

By Guy Hand, NZ Newswire Updated August 9, 2012, 10:20 pm

For the Boomers, the end of the Olympic Games may just be the beginning.

After winning worldwide plaudits for pushing the world's best basketball team for three quarters before bowing out of London, Australia's men stand on the verge of a great new era.

The Boomers have beaten potential medallists Russia, produced one of the heaviest scoring second halves in international basketball to bury Great Britain, and tested the United States in a 33-point quarter-final loss on Wednesday.

Respect has come from all quarters - Kobe Bryant leading the public high-fives for the Boomers as they exit the Games.

But London's legacy may well be seen for another decade in Australian basketball.

Patty Mills' brilliance, Joe Ingles' breakout tournament and a core of under-25 players led by Matthew Dellavedova and Aron Baynes have excited and delighted at the Games.

Throw in NBA star Andrew Bogut - missing from London through injury - and Australia has a serious team which could serve it well to the next world championships and the 2016 Games in Rio De Janeiro.

For retiring Australian skipper Matt Nielsen, banging bodies with LeBron James and company was a fitting way to end a career in which he has been an unsung mainstay of the national team set-up for a decade.

Nielsen, 34, played through the post-Andrew Gaze era in gritty teams lacking depth in star power, but truly believes Australia is on the verge of something special.

"What I'll remember most about London is the way we played - the way we fought back from a bad start," Nielsen said.

"The thing I've been proud of in the last two Olympics is being part of guys like Joey and Patty's development.

"To see those guys especially, I wish I was a bit younger and I could run up and down with them a bit more. They're special players."

While Mills, who netted 26 against the US and sparked a huge early third quarter run to bring Australia within three points, will play in the NBA with San Antonio next season, Ingles can expect serious NBA interest on the strength of his tournament.

When asked if Ingles, who is playing at Europe's highest level with Spanish club Barcelona, could make the NBA grade, US coach Mike Krzyzewski nodded enthusiastically and Australian coach Brett Brown heartily endorsed the 24-year-old swingman.

"He's multi-faceted, he has a great skills package for his size," said Brown, an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs.

"His future is on the up and up. I think the NBA will pay attention, especially after these Olympic Games."

Krzyzewski was taken with Australia's efforts in the 119-86 loss, which the US needed superstar James' triple-double and Bryant's 20 points including six second half three-pointers to quell.

"We beat a really good team. They play so hard and so well together," Krzyzewski said.

"My hat's off to them. I love the way they expressed themselves, and it's great to see at the Olympics how much their players love their team and love their country."