The Australian Boomers will have to settle for a frustrating fourth place finish at the FIBA World Cup in China unable to hold on to a handy early second half lead in the bronze medal playoff as France ended up prevailing 67-59.
Both teams had to shake off the disappointment of losing their semi finals on Friday night but without question it was the Boomers who had the biggest job in that regard following the remarkable double overtime contest they just managed to lose to Spain.
That was Australia’s first loss of the World Cup and they had already defeat France to finish atop their group at the end of the second round with the French then losing their own semi-final in somewhat of an upset to the still undefeated surprise packets, Argentina.
But the Boomers shook off that disappointment and delivered a tremendous first half holding France to a World Cup low of 21 points in the first to go in leading 30-21 at half-time
Australia still led by 15 early in the third quarter but France refused to lie down and in the end it was three huge triples from surprise scorer Andrew Albicy that turned the momentum in their favour in the fourth team as they went on to win by eight points.
It will be a tough result to swallow for the Boomers who had such a phenomenal World Cup and went ever so close on Friday night to advancing to the gold medal game which would have guaranteed them a first ever medal at a major world tournament.
However, now it’s another fourth place finish having also finished fourth back at the Rio Olympic Games as the team now refocuses on trying to earn that elusive medal next at the Tokyo Olympics.
Joe Ingles finished off his strong World Cup campaign for Australia with 17 points, five rebounds and three assists while Patty Mills capped off a tournament that has to have him high in MVP calculations with 15 points on 6/12 shooting.
Nick Kay continued to prove what an invaluable part of this Boomers team he is by starting in the game and finishing with nine points and five rebounds.
Aron Baynes contributed five points and four rebounds, Andrew Bogut five points and six boards, Jock Landale four points and three rebounds, and Matthew Dellavedova four points, five assists and four rebounds.
Nando De Colo had another big night for France with 19 points and three assists while Orlando Magic NBA star Evan Fournier produced 16 points and five boards despite shooting only 5/17 from the field with Matthew Dellavedova hounding him all evening.
Andrew Albicy added nine points and three rebounds, Nicolas Batum nine points and six assists, and Vincent Poirier eight points and seven rebounds.
With Nick Kay and Andrew Bogut in the starting line-up, the Boomers started well firstly with an easy Kay layup and then a triple from Patty Mills for the game’s first five points.
Mills then helped Australia lead 10-4 and when Aron Baynes hit from downtown to continue his standout three-point shooting in China, the Boomers were up 13-6 and still 16-11 by quarter-time with Andrew Bogut scoring to quieten his army of Chinese fans.
Ingles opened the second period by draining a three and Australia continued to be brilliant defensively on the high-powered French outfit, including a big Bogut block on De Colo.
Australia then ensured it went into half-time with a 30-21 advantage on the back of six big points from Ingles despite France staying in touch with an Evan Fournier triple.
The Boomers opened the second half with back-to-back and-one plays from Kay and Ingles which blew the lead out to 15 points, but the game was from done yet.
A Dellavedova bucket just before three quarter-time kept Australia on top 46-42 going into the fourth quarter but an individual 8-0 run for France from Nando De Colo saw them take over the lead at 50-46.
Kay, Mills and Bogut then helped the Boomers regain the lead thanks to a 6-0 run but then the Zenit Saint Petersburg star Andrew Albicy caught fire as a surprise match-winner for France.
He hit three triples to close the game for his only points of the night as France went from trailing by two leading by seven when he nailed his third, and they went on to win the game by eight and claim the bronze medal.
FIBA WORLD CUP – BRONZE MEDAL PLAYOFF
AUSTRALIA 59 (Joe Ingles 17, Patty Mills 15, Nick Kay 9)
FRANCE 67 (Nando De Colo 19, Evan Fournier 16, Andrew Albicy 9, Nicolas Batum 9)