History was made in front of 52,000-plus fans at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne on Saturday afternoon.
The Australia Boomers did something no other International team has been capable of doing in the past 13 years – knocking off the United States.
Led by Patty Mills’ 30-point outburst, the Boomers snapped Team USA’s 78-game win streak with a 98-94 victory over the World’s No. 1 ranked team.
For takeaways on the historic victory, we have you covered below.
Patty Mills, “Human Torch”
It’s no secret that Patty Mills has a history of lighting it up as a scorer for the Boomers and this contest was no different for the San Antonio Spurs point guard.
Mills wasn’t red hot the entire game, though – he didn’t truly get going until the third frame. Australia trailed by a slim one-point margin at the half but the United States began to blow things open, taking a 10-point lead – the largest of the game – early in the third quarter. In order to douse the flames, Mills rattled off a stretch of eight points in 45 seconds to keep his Boomers within striking distance.
Mills had 17 points going into the fourth quarter and with his team in need of his scoring to close things out, the Aussie guard answered the call.
Mills went on to score 13 of his game-high 30 points in the final frame, including all 10 of Australia’s final points to close out Team USA. Mills banked in a 3-pointer to put the Boomers up by four late in the contest and continued to kill the United States with a pair of midrange jumpers and an slashing layup at the rim.
After the game, his teammate Mitch Creek – deservingly – donned Mills as the lead role for the Human Torch in the new Fantastic Four movie coming out.
Mills can fill it up fast and with the volume of shots he receives on this Boomers squad, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be in consideration to lead the FIBA World Cup in scoring.
Ingles bounce-back game
Joe Ingles has struggled to get into a rhythm through the Boomers’ exhibition friendlies, but that changed in this contest.
Ingles looked like the point forward we saw so often throughout the NBA season, doing a fantastic job of getting things going on the offensive end for Australia. He used his playmaking abilities to get his teammates involved and in return, opened up his own offensive opportunities.
Ingles dished out five assists in the first quarter, then got his scoring going in the second frame to give him eight points at the half.
The Aussie forward continued to stuff the stat sheet in the second half, often running the offence through his hands. Though Mills had the hot hand, it was Ingles that was orchestrating everything to get the team’s leading scorer great looks.
Ingles finished with a game-high seven assists while also chipping in 15 points for the Boomers. Again, it was Mills’ final scoring surge that closed out the game, but you could argue Ingles hit the biggest shot of the contest to put Australia up by one late in the game – a lead they would never surrender.
This is the Joe Ingles that Australia has expected – and needed – if they’re going to do damage in China. It’s great to see the crafty forward get both his playmaking and scoring going in their final tune-up game before the real tournament begins.
USA’s offensive woes
A major question surrounding this United States team has been “who will go get them a bucket when they need it most?”
Well, that question is no longer up in the air as both Kemba Walker and Donovan Mitchell have emerged as the likely candidates to fill that role.
But there’s two different questions that have became imminent following their first loss in 78 International contests – can they score in the paint and can someone facilitate their offence?
Let’s address the first question first – Team USA was outscored 46-26 on points in the paint. To their defence, Australia has solid rim protectors in Aron Baynes or Andrew Bogut on the floor at all times and not every team at the World Cup will have a presence like that. But the United States’ thin frontcourt has been a question mark on this team since the first training camp roster was released.
Their centres – Myles Turner, Brook Lopez and Mason Plumlee – played a combined 32 minutes and scored five points (while also being outrebounded by the Boomers). Their guards and forwards shied away from attacking the rim at times, often settling for midrange pull-ups or contested 3’s. Team USA will have to assert themselves to the rim more frequently and the bigs will have to find ways to score inside if the want to retain the Gold in China.
And now to the second question – who will step up as a facilitator on USA?
Kemba Walker and Donovan Mitchell did the majority of the ball handling for the United States in the contest with some Marcus Smart sprinkled in there. The issue with that was answered above – Walker and Mitchell, along with Jayson Tatum, appear to be Team USA’s premier scorers.
The Boomers doubled the United States’ assist total 22-11. In fact, Smart (3 assists) and Walker (2 assists) were the only USA players that recorded more than one assist. Head coach Gregg Popovich is certainly still playing around with rotations and that was evident in this loss, but the United States will desperately need someone to take over the lead playmaking role if they’re going to hit their stride on that end of the floor in China.
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