Phoenix Suns Steve Nash defends against San Antonio Spurs Patty Mills (L) during their NBA basketball game in Phoenix, Arizona, April 25, 2012. REUTERS/Darryl Webb (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL) Photo: DARRYL WEBB
They may have avoided facing the NBA superstar-laden United States team in the pool stage, but that isn't the blessing it may seem according to Boomers guard Patty Mills.
Speaking from San Antonio, Texas, yesterday where his NBA side, the Spurs, will tomorrow look to take a 2-0 lead in its playoff series against Utah, Mills said the crucial moment in the draw for the Boomers would be when the crossover came, and the top four teams from one group play the top four in the other.
Australia has been drawn in a group along with Beijing silver medal winner Spain, host nation Great Britain, Brazil, China and a yet to be determined qualifier. In the other group is the US, Argentina, France, Tunisia and two qualifiers.
''We were all talking about the draw at [Spurs] practice this morning,'' Mills said. ''It's a great group. Brazil's in there and Great Britain, China, and Spain, and the other group is tough too, but we can definitely do our research on those teams in our group and we can be very, very competitive,'' he said.
''The thing for us is to set our goals and our standards high, and settle for nothing less than that.''
In Beijing four years ago the Boomers finished fourth in their group which meant they played the top team from the other group in the quarter-finals. Despite a competitive showing, they were eliminated by the US, 116-85. At the 2006 world titles in Japan, they also finished fourth in the group stage and were subsequently knocked out by the US, while they were third in the group at the 2010 world titles, avoided the US, but were beaten in the round of 16 by Slovenia.
''It's the crossover which is going to be interesting thing,'' Mills said. ''There are three tough teams there - the USA, France and Argentina - so if we finish in the top four of our group, you know you are going to cross over and play someone very tough anyway, whether it's the USA or not. Look it would be good to avoid them, but no matter what game we get if we cross over, it will be tough.''
Making things tougher in London will be that the Boomers will be without 2005 NBA No.1 draft pick Andrew Bogut who announced last month he would miss the Games after being forced to have ankle surgery.
''Obviously we would like to have Bogut with us, but circumstances tell us otherwise, which is fine,'' Mills said.
The Opals have also been drawn in pool B, which will see them face Russia, Brazil and Great Britain. The grouping was a stroke of luck according to head coach Carrie Graf.
''We've got three games against Brazil floated in Melbourne in June, and we've got two games against Russia in Europe in July, so we've got good games against those two key opponents and we also play Great Britain in a tournament in the lead up to the Olympics so our planning has been pretty good to us.''