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Draw, eliminations help Boomers quest

THE elimination of regular nemeses Serbia and Lithuania from the men's Olympic draw at Tokyo and the make-up of Australia's group definitely opens the door for the Boomers to progress to the second round.

While of late Lithuania's rivalry with the Boomers has swung more to our favour, it was Serbia which put Australia into the Bronze Medal match at the Rio Olympics where it ultimately lost to Spain in another burgeoning international rivalry.

The Spaniards are around, along with first-time qualifier Slovenia, Japan and Argentina in Group C. 

Group A boasts Iran, Czech Republic, France and the USA.

And in the Boomers' Group B, it's Nigeria, Germany and Italy.

That's right. No Croatia, Russia, Canada, Brazil. Make no mistake, the door is ajar to going through to the second round as probably Group B's No.1 seed.

That's when it's going to get interesting, of course.

The USA will suit Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat), Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards), Devon Booker (Phoenix Suns), Kevin Durant (Brooklyn Nets), Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors), Jrue Holiday (Milwaukee Bucks), Zach LaVine (Chicago Bulls), Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers), Kevin Love (Cleveland Cavaliers), Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks), Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics), coached by Gregg Popovich (San Antonio Spurs), with Steve Kerr (Golden State Warriors) his lead assistant.

It goes without saying it's a vast imporvement on the C-grade team the US took to the last FIBA World Cup.

Australia should come through the intragroup stage OK, as should the Opals - though as Sami Whitcomb has shown in the WNBA this season, her absence from that team is a nonsense.

It's during the next stage where it is going to become challenging for the Boomers, chasing a maiden medal which has eluded them since their debut at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne.

They failed to qualify for Rome in 1960 and Mexico in 1968 but first impressed the world with their showing at the Tokyo Olympic Games of 1964. Hopefully, that is a profound omen after 16 Olympic Games so far have yielded four unsuccessful playoffs for the Bronze.

PATHFINDERS: Australia's 1964 Olympic team took Tokyo by storm.

Jul 6

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