Dream Team looming for winless Boomers

By Guy Hand, NZ Newswire Updated August 1, 2012, 1:40 am

The Boomers are inching towards a best-case scenario of the worst possible quarter-final showdown at the Olympic Games after defeat by Spain on Tuesday.

World No.2 Spain's comfortable 82-70 victory in their men's basketball Group B match on Tuesday leaves Australia winless in their opening two games.

Though three group matches remain, a fourth place finish in their group and a possible quarter-final showdown with the United States Dream Team is now in serious play.

And it may be the Boomers' only way to emerge from their six-team group and qualify for the second stage.

Spain's NBA superstar Pau Gasol and two-guard Rudy Fernandez ran a truck over the Boomers, while Australia's shooting was awful - especially from the perimeter.

For the second successive game, the Boomers had an important element of their game fail dismally - with turnovers proving costly in their opening match loss to Brazil.

"We did a decent job with just five turnovers in this game compared to last game, but we missed a lot of shots," said Boomers swingman Joe Ingles, who netted 12 points, six rebounds and was one of few to connect with his three-point shots.

"We'll come out next game, and hopefully we'll make some shots. But I don't believe we're far off it."

The Boomers remain confident they can qualify from a long and convoluted group stage in which eight of the 12 teams go through.

But they must beat China on Thursday to remain alive in the race for a quarter-final berth.

China have also lost their opening two games.

The Boomers went with the star-studded Spaniards for the first quarter and a good chunk of the second with their defence a feature.

But trailing 37-32 at halftime, the Boomers paid for their waste from outside, with an early 10-0 Spanish run iced by threes to Fernandez and Gasol putting the game out of reach.

Fernandez, who needed three stitches in his head after crashing into a photographer late in the first half, led a shooting spree as Spain flexed the muscle they hope will test the US if they meet for gold.

But while Spain were downing threes at will - Australia's perimeter shooting was in siesta as star guard Patty Mills and all bar Ingles had off-days from outside.

The Boomers managed just four of 24 shots from outside the arc at 17 per cent, with Mills zero of five.

Australia only managed 10 points for the entire third term, giving Spain an unassailable 21-point lead at the final break.

While the Boomers rallied late to close to within 10 points in the final two minutes, the game was already lost.

Los Angeles Lakers star Gasol was exceptional with 20 points for Spain, while Fernandez finished with 17 points on four-of-five three-point shooting.



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