‘Inspiring’: Boomers create Cup history
Andrew Bogut is sure the old Boomers would've blown it.
Things have changed though, the Australian centre says, as they prepare for a maiden World Cup semi-final against Spain on Friday.
Wednesday's tense 82-70 defeat of the Czech Republic in Shanghai saw them improve to 6-0 in the tournament on the same night two-time defending champions United States crashed out of medal contention.
Bogut was huge in the third quarter with the game in the balance, making crucial plays at both ends in a 10-point, three block, three assist supporting act to tournament MVP contender Patty Mills (24 points, six assists).
Argentina's upset of Serbia on Tuesday mean China's is the first World Cup where neither the European powerhouse or the United States will feature in the final four.
Australia aren't looking past Spain though, who beat the Boomers by one point in the Olympic bronze medal game in 2016.
"We remember that game; we've held that for three years," Bogut said. "Spoke about it numerous times, and it still hurts today. We have a chance to salvage that in a couple days."
And he says that salvage act has only come about because of losses like their brutal one in Brazil.
"I learned a long time ago, especially in Rio, if you look ahead in these tournaments, you shoot yourself in the foot," he said. "This is the kind of game we would've lost years ago.
"We thought we accomplished something coming into a game like this, and we would've squandered it."
Coach Andrej Lemanis admitted there was some "anxiety" in the early stages that contributed to six first-quarter turnovers.
But he credited his side for sticking to its guns, finishing with 11 turnovers for the night on 21 assists.
"The way they play for one another, there's never finger pointing, it's about finding solutions … it's inspiring," Lemanis said.
"But the thing is now, the job's not finished for us. We finished fourth in the Olympics and that was a terrible feeling.
"We've given ourselves an opportunity now and we want to ensure that we do everything we can to take advantage of this opportunity."
Australia was made to earn it against a Czech side in their first World Cup since 1982, when they were still called Czechoslovakia.
Mills blazed 13 first-quarter points before Bogut took the game by the scruff of the neck in a decisive third-quarter cameo.
Neither team could edge clear but some lock down Boomers defence led to a Chris Goulding (14 points) triple and they were finally up and about. Bogut then made plays at both ends to dull the boos, the Australians in the crowd responding with 'Andrew Bogut' chants of their own.
Goulding then hit two more triples, with Tomas Satoransky's (13 points, 13 assists, nine rebounds) dunk on the buzzer making it a 15-point game at the final break.
It quickly became an eight point margin but a time-out was followed by an Aron Baynes left-hand alley-oop to stop the run, and Bogut made a series of lay-ups to ensure the Boomers collected a sixth-straight Cup win.
Quarter-finals: Argentina def Serbia 97-87, Spain def Poland 90-78, France def USA 89-79, Australia def Czech Republic 82-70
Semi-finals: Spain v Australia (Friday, 6pm AEST), Argentina v France (Friday, 10pm AEST)
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You bloody beauty! How good are the Boomers. Well done fellas. #Proud— Shane Heal (@ShaneHeal) September 11, 2019
Up da boomers!!! Semi finals baby!! Couldn’t be more proud right now! Aussie Aussie Aussie!!!!— Anthony Petrie (@Antpetrie17) September 11, 2019
BOOMERS!! 🇦🇺🇦🇺 2 more to go!— Nate Tomlinson (@Nate_Tomlinson) September 11, 2019
Up the Boomers!!!!!!! 🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺— Daniel Kickert (@kicks14) September 11, 2019