After last nights loss to Angola the Australian men’s basketball team have recently been accused of tanking. The origin for the allegation stems from the fact that the Boomers were heavy favorites to beat Angola and also due to the format of the round of 16, by avoiding the second place finish in the group D division, Australia would avoid the USA juggernaut for as long as possible.
This allegation is not only false, but completely outrages. This accusation should even be getting recognition and it is truly appalling that seasoned professionals such as Goran Dragic have suggested such things. For everyone falsely accusing the Boomers, not only are you wrongly trying to damage the reputation of Australian basketball for simply getting outplayed, but you are completely disrespecting the hard fought game that Angola played. Yes, Australia rested their stars Aron Baynes and Joe Ingles, and only played Matthew Dellavedova 3 minutes, but given the circumstances that this game had no effect on whether Australia made the round of 16, it would have been completely foolish not to rest their best players. Not only do basketball teams do this constantly, but almost every professional sport team will rest players when there is nothing to gain from a win, and especially when a win or go home game is only days away.
The strategy on the court was never to lose the game; Australia had some great passages of play followed with some poor ones, which has pretty much been the way all of the five games have played out. With Aron Baynes out, Nate Jawai filled in at center and despite having some spectacular moments, he simply did not have the conditioning, speed, agility or length to properly guard Yanick Moreira (remember that name, the kid can seriously play basketball) who exploded for 38 points and 15 rebounds. Due to the secure position in group D, there was no need for Dellavedova to risk injury, so after the first 3 or so minutes he remained on the bench for the duration of the game. This moved the floor general duties on to the recent Utah Jazz draftee Dante Exum. Given his young age and inexperience, Exum struggled mightily to get into any rhythm and didn’t control the flow of the game to the usual crisp standard of Dellevadova and therefore Australia struggled to get into any rhythm for the majority of the game. The Australian’s also seemed to be lacking continuity on defense and Angola took full advantage of this late in the third quarter and continued their momentum into the fourth.
So for anyone suggesting the this game was simply a strategic play to avoid the United States, maybe sit down and watch the game and give the Angolans some credit, it was a hard fought game and Australia was simply out played by a much more in sync and hungry Angolan squad.