Joe Ingles will be a key man for the Boomers.
Joe Ingles will be a key man for the Boomers.

Boomers unbeaten after World Cup thriller

Dare to dream, Boomers fans.

Australia's chances of claiming a maiden men's medal remain very much alive following a thrilling 87-82 victory over European foes Lithuania.

The win ensures the Boomers finish first in Group H, placing them in a strong position to progress to the quarter finals.

Australia will now play France and the Dominican Republic in the second round, starting on Saturday.

The Boomers must finish in the top two to qualify for their first quarter final appearance since 1982.

Australia led by as many as 15 points but the determined Lithuanians refused to go away.

Lithuania surged back to claim the lead in the fourth quarter before the Boomers held on down the stretch in a World Cup classic.

Patty Mills continued his outstanding form with 23 points.

 

Andrew Bogut battled hard before he fouled out of the game..
Andrew Bogut battled hard before he fouled out of the game..

Mills also came up with two clutch baskets down to stretch, including a monster three in the final seconds, to help the Aussies over the line.

Big man Aron Baynes led the way for Australia in the physical stakes with 21 points and 13 rebounds in his best performance in the World Cup campaign to date.

Baynes loves the big man battles, so he thrived against Lithuania's NBA duo Domantas Sabonis and Jonas Valanciunas.

The proud Queenslander dominated in the paint while he added 3 of 5 from beyond the arc.

Lithuanian league bound big man Jock Landale excelled with 10 points and Nick Kay (11 points) was brilliant off the bench.

Twenty-two years after Arvydas Sabonis broke Aussie hearts to deny the Boomers a bronze medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, the Australians gained a little slice of revenge over their arch-rivals.

The Boomers have now won four straight games over their foes Lithuania while the overall match-up between the two sides is now locked at 5-all.

Australia's strong performance against the Lithuanians will put the rest of the World Cup on notice.

The Aussies not only possess six players with NBA experience but they also have the depth to go deep in the World Cup.

Patty Mills turned it on again for the Boomers in the second half.
Patty Mills turned it on again for the Boomers in the second half.

Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis was rapt with his team's fight and composure in the closing minutes.

"That (game) is why you love being involved in international basketball," Lemanis said.

"It was a great game between two very good teams.

"It was always going to be tight and tussle but I'm really proud of our group for managing to find a way when things got a bit tough for us.

"They kept the belief to scrap their way to a win."

Australia jumped out to a 21-13 lead before going to the first quarter with a 27-19 advantage.

The Boomers maintained the momentum in the second quarter inspired by Kay, who starred off the bench with 7 first-half points.

Australia led by 11 points at halftime but Lithuania didn't want to surrender.

The Lithuanians reduced the Boomers' lead to single figures before the Aussies found their feet to take an 8-point advantage into the final quarter.

Lithuania surged to the lead in the fourth but the Boomers held on thanks to some Mills magic.

 

Aron Baynes was a tower of power for the Boomers.
Aron Baynes was a tower of power for the Boomers.

DELLY'S HISTORY

The last time Australia played Lithuania at the 2016 Olympics, Boomers guard Matthew Dellavedova dominated with 15 points to guide Australia to a 90-64 win.

Dellavedova picked up where he left off in Rio to drop his first two shots from beyond the arc before finishing with 10 points.

The Cleveland Cavaliers guard was also effective on the defensive end, repeatedly denying the Lithuanians with his dogged determination.

Australia need Dellavedova to deliver at this high standard to win an elusive medal.  

 

Our feels when we find out the Boomers are Tokyo-bound.
Our feels when we find out the Boomers are Tokyo-bound.

PACK YOUR BAGS FOR TOKYO

Australia's place in the 2020 Games were officially locked in on Thursday night when New Zealand lost to a Giannis Antetokounmpo-led Greece side.

The loss means the Tall Blacks finished third in their group.

All Australia needed to do was finish above the New Zealanders to lock in the Olympics.

It's significant news for a Boomers team hellbent on finally winning a men's medal at a major tournament, especially after the heartbreak of their fourth-placed finish at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The Australians should also be boosted by big NBA names in Tokyo like Ben Simmons, Dante Exum and Thon Maker.

For now, though, the Boomers are fully focused on winning a medal at the World Cup in China.

 

WATCH: Live stream the Boomers and every game of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 with KAYO SPORTS on your TV, computer, mobile or tablet. Get your 14 day free trial & start streaming instantly >