The Australian Boomers men’s national basketball team had a pretty lacklustre lead up in their preparations for the London Olympics when they lost earlier this week to China.
The loss was compounded by the news that Australia will share their Olympic pool with a host of excellent basketball nations.
Spain is in there- they are probably the best bet to knock off the U.S with their giant front line featuring the Gasol brothers and defensive specialist Serge Ibaka, but the pool also features China, Russia, Brazil and Britain.
Despite being one position lower than the Chinese in the world rankings (10th), the Russians will field a stronger side and could also be in the hunt for a medal. Brazil may be the second best team in the pool, they have a few very solid NBA players, and it may be a stretch for the Aussies to finish anything other than second last (England should be rubbish).
The bleak outlook hasn’t fazed captain Matt Nielsen. Entering his third games, Nielsen doesn’t want a bar of media outlets that claim the Aussies will be easy fodder.
"I swear, without sounding over the top about it, I don't know how people rate us. I don't care," he said.
"Make no mistake our goal is to get a medal."
Yi Jianlian did the damage for China against Australia. The sweet shooting big man, who last played for the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA this year, scored 10 points in the first half of the Stankovic Continental Cup, winning 67-44.
Australia’s top scorer was Townsville Crocodile Todd Blanchfield with 9 measly points.
The Aussies hosted the Chinese in June and were far more impressive, but went down this time to the full-strength home team.