Boomers' Olympic medal path clears

·2-min read

Italy have beaten Rio silver medallists Serbia to earn the final spot in Australia's Tokyo Olympics pool as the Boomers' path to a maiden international basketball medal clears.

Brian Goorjian's side will play Nigeria, Germany and Italy in the condensed four-team pool stage, with Serbia sensationally knocked out in the qualifying final.

It leaves Australia in the box seat to top their pool and ensure they avoid an early match-up with the United States in a knockout quarter or semi-final.

The task remains a tricky one though, with Nigeria potentially fielding a 12-man squad made up entirely of NBA talent, including Denver guard Monte Morris, Miami's Precious Achiuwa and KZ Okpala, Detroit's Jahlil Okafor, Minnesota's Josh Okogie, Utah's Udoka Azubuike.

Italy powered past the Serbians thanks to Golden State Warriors guard Nico Mannion's 24 points, while Slovenia will enter their maiden Olympics as a legitimate contender thanks to more Luka Doncic brilliance.

The Dallas Mavericks star - a teammate of Boomers rookie Josh Green - scored a game-high 31 points, dished out 13 assists and grabbed 11 rebounds in a win that means Lithuania miss their first Olympics since 1988.

The Boomers will be led by Patty Mills and Joe Ingles in their fourth Olympics, but be without NBA All-Star Ben Simmons and retired centre Andrew Bogut.

Newcomer Matisse Thybulle will bring NBA All-Defence second team pedigree and Green and Dante Exum will offer something different to the side that finished fourth at the last Olympics and World Cup.

But Australia's pursuit of gold, which begins on July 25, means they'll likely need to beat a United States outfit led by Kevin Durant.

Without many stars the US finished a chastening seventh at the 2019 World Cup and will come in hot chasing a fourth-straight gold, with Kevin Love, Draymond Green, Devin Booker, Bam Adebayo and Damian Lillard all named to play.

MEN'S OLYMPIC BASKETBALL POOLS

* Czech Republic, Iran, France, USA

* Germany, Italy, Nigeria, Australia

* Slovenia, Argentina, Japan, Spain

HOW IT WORKS

* To win gold a team has to play six games - three in the group phase before knockout quarter, semis and a final - instead of eight as in past tournaments.

* The teams placed first and second in each group and the two-best third-placed teams in the group phase qualify for the quarter-finals.

* A draw will take place following the conclusion of the group phase to determine the quarter-final match-ups.

* The three group winners and the second-placed team with the best result are placed in one pot, with the two remaining second-placed teams and two best third-placed teams in another pot.

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