Basketball explainer, Boomers, Opal, teams, draws, schedule


The 2021 Olympics are shaping as the Boomers’ best chance at breaking their medal duck with the belief stronger than its ever been.

Although Ben Simmons famously decided not to compete at the Games after a horror show of an NBA Playoffs campaign

, the Aussies appear set for their best ever finish in the Olympics.

In a team stacked with NBA talent, Utah Jazz sharpshooter Joe Ingles told Newscorp that the burning desire for an Olympic medal would mean more to him than an NBA title.

“It’s the reason we keep coming back,” Ingles told News Corp. “It’s that burning desire to be the first team, to create history with this group and obviously get that gold medal. It’s something that continuously pushes us.”

The Boomers missed out on bronze in 2016 when a controversial foul handed Spain the medal despite taking a lead with just 9.7 seconds left in the match.

Ingles and Patty Mills, who already has a championship with the 2014 San Antonio Spurs, agree winning a medal would be better than an NBA ring.

“For us two, representing our country, playing not for just ourselves but for our families, and all the Australians, and again just that history of never having won,” Ingles said.

“We’ve obviously got the passion and dedication to be the first team to bring it home.”

The Boomers all marched in the Opening Ceremony, with the core of the team having been together for more than a decade, to support flag-bearer Mills, Australia’s first Indigenous flag-bearer in Olympic history.

It could be an Olympics stacked with hardware for the Aussies after the Opals — despite having some dramas around Liz Cambage in the lead up — stunned the US in the warm-ups.

The Aussie women are ranked fifth in the FIBA power rankings heading into the event after taking a dip after Cambage’s exit.

But the Opals have been there and done that, and with their own win over the US fresh in their minds, anything is possible.

The rule differences to the NBA

The court is slightly smaller in the Olympics and you can score three points from outside the three-point arc, two-points from inside the three-point arc and a free throw is worth one point.

The quarters are shorter in the Olympics — 10 minutes to 12 in the NBA. It also means the foul limit is five fouls per game compared to six in the NBA.

There is also no rules against standing in the defensive paint so it means centres can camp out under the rim — a benefit for French NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert.

Basketball in the Olympics

Men’s basketball has been in the Olympics since 1936, with the US winning medals at 18 of the 19 Olympics it’s been at — 15 of which were gold, one silver and two bronze and only missing out in 1980, when America boycotted the games in Moscow.

Women’s basketball was first played in 1976, with the US winning eight golds, a silver and a bronze.

Australia in basketball at the Olympics

While Australia has never won a medal in the men’s competition, it has finished fourth four times in 1988, 1996, 2000 and 2016.

The team thinks this is the best opportunity we’ve ever had.

The Aussie women have claimed three silvers and two bronze and are the most decorated team other than the US.

But with Liz Cambage pulling out of the tournament amid her pre-Olympic scandal, it will be interesting to see how the Opals react.

Olympic groups


Group A: Iran, France, USA, Czech Republic

Group B: Australia, Germany, Italy, Nigeria
Group C: Argentina, Japan, Spain, Slovenia


Group A: Canada, Korea, Serbia, Spain

Group B: France, Japan, Nigeria, USA

Group C: Australia, Belgium, China, Puerto Rico

Australia’s draw


Sunday July 25: Vs Nigeria at 6.20pm AEST

Wednesday July 27: Vs Italy at 6.20pm AEST

Saturday July 31: Vs Germany at 6.20pm AEST

Tuesday August 3: Quarterfinals

Thursday August 5: Semi-finals

Saturday August 7: Gold medal game at 12.30pm AEST

Saturday August 7: Bronze medal game at 9pm AEST


Tuesday July 27: Vs Belgium at 6.20pm AEST

Friday July 30: Vs China at 6.20pm AEST
Monday August 2: Vs Puerto Rico at 10pm AEST

Wednesday August 4: Quarterfinals

Friday August 6: Semi-finals

Saturday August 7: Bronze medal game at 9pm AEST

Sunday August 8: Gold medal game at 12.30pm AEST

How the playoffs work

The top two teams in each group go through to the quarterfinals, as well as the top two ranked third placed teams.

From there it is a knockout competition with gold and silver medallist decided in the final while the semi-final losers will play off for the bronze medal.

Australia’s rosters

Men: Chris Goulding, Matthew Dellavedova, Aron Baynes, Patty Mills, Nathan Sobey, Jock Landale, Josh Green, Matisse Thybulle, Duop Thomas Reath, Joe Ingles, Dante Exum, Nic Kay. Coach: Brian Goorjian

Women: Jenna O’Hea, Leilani Mitchell, Steph Talbot, Tess Madgen, Sara Blicavs, Bec Allen, Katie Ebzery, Alanna Smith, Tess Lavey, Ezi Magbegor, Marianna Tolo, Cayla George. Coach: Sandy Brondello

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