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Australia focused and together, defeat China

13 August 2016

BASKETBALL: Australia has defeated China 93-68 to remain second in group A of the Olympic basketball competition.

The Aussies extended their advantage throughout the contest, leading by five at quarter time, 10 at half time and 15 at three quarter time en route to the victory.

Cameron Bairstow led the way with 17 points and 9 rebounds, while Brock Motum added 15 points.

Every Australian got on the scoresheet, with five players in double figures.

London Olympic lead goalscorer Patrick Mills said he hoped that the current Australian team were leading the way for future generations of champions.

"Hopefully it’s inspiring; the way we play, the style we play and the way we represent ourselves, hopefully it’s inspiring for other young Australians to be able to want to be greater than we are now, that’s what it’s all about," Mills said.

"I’ve said it before, I think this is the greatest team Australia has ever put together for an Olympic Games and that’s what we should strive for each time, try to be better."

Australia dominated in the paint despite centre Andrew Bogut sitting out the contest, a move that Mills supported.

"They’ve been through a lot after the last NBA season so to be able to get some rest and recharge the batteries is the most important thing," he said.

"Obviously today was an important game but we’re going to need him even more down the road for the rest of the tournament."

The men in green and gold scored 50 points inside and out-rebounded China 34-21. Australia also generated 21 points from turnovers and also registered 54 points from the bench, with coach Andrej Lemanis able to spread the minutes through the squad.

Mills attributed the group's unity and focus to a team trip to Uluru earlier this year.

"(It was) for everyone individually, and for us as a team, to be able to find that deeper meaning, something for us to kickstart the campaign," he said.

"(We thought about) why do we want to win the gold and why are we so passionate to play for Australia. It was just a small trip to give everyone time individually to think about what it is, but it’s important to understand why you do that, you represent your whole country, you represent Australia, you represent your name and everything else that comes along with it."

Australia will finish the group stage on Sunday against Venezuela and a win will guarantee at least second place in the group. The Aussies are now guaranteed to be in the quarter finals of the tournament for the third straight Olympics.

The win marked the 50th victory for Australia in men's Olympic basketball history.

Kevin Diggerson

olympics.com.au

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