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WC: Green and gold, as foretold

IS the current Australian team at the FIBA World Cup in China destined to go down as our greatest ever? Or will they just go down tomorrow night in Dongguan when facing arch international rival Lithuania?

With their 92-69 win last night over Canada to join Australia on 2-0 win-loss records, the Lithuanians guaranteed both countries in the green-and-gold would advance out of Group H play.

Lithuania thrashed Senegal 101-47 and its 23-point win over the Canadians also was more impressive than the Boomers' 13-point win over the Africans last night, and their 16-point beating of the Canucks.

With Germany eliminated in Group G, Australia and Lithuania now will cross over against France and Dominican Republic in Nanjing in the new Group L. The results of the three games played in Group G and Group H carry over to this second round.

Each team then plays against the two teams in Group L that they did not face in the first round, with the top two then heading into quarter-finals.

It means to get to the quarters with the best possible seeding, the Boomers need to beat Lithuania, then both France and Dominican Republic.

A loss to the Lithos means - barring the unforeseen which is ever on the cards - beating France and the Dom Rep would be essential to advance.

There was no shortage of great games overnight, with Turkey taking the USA to overtime before the Americans held on for a 93-92 escape.

Turkey had it won in regulation but, up by two, fouled Jayson Tatum on a 3-point attempt (below) with 0.1 of a second left. Tatum made his first free throw, clunked the second, but stuck the third to force overtime.

Turkey missed four free throws which would have iced the game in overtime before Khris Middleton's pair from the stripe limped the USA across the line and into the tournament's next phase.

Dominican Republic KO'd Germany 70-68, Brazil unsettled Greece 79-78 and trans-Tasman rival New Zealand kept its tournament alive beating Montenegro 93-83.

With results spilling into the realm of the very unpredictable and some super basketball being played, the Boomers need to find their best to take their record against Lithuania at international events (Worlds and Olympics ) to a level 5-5.

Australia's connection to Lithuania began with the first of back-to-back national tours by the Soviet Union team in 1987 and 1988, ahead of the Seoul Olympics.

Annexed countries such as Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine were forced to play under the USSR's banner, but the team's Lithuanian connection with players such as Arvydas Sabonis, Sarunas Marciulionis and Rimas Kurtinaitis were instant hits here.

When the USSR won Gold at Seoul and Australia played the USA for Bronze, the improvement in the Boomers was evident and the country's affinity for the Soviets never stronger.

But with the breakdown of the Iron Curtain in 1989, Lithuania finally was able to play under its own national banner by the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, suiting its own "dream team" which won Bronze.

HISTORY MAKERS: Lithuania's passionate 1992 Bronze Medal-winning Olympic team.

For a country of 2.5 million basketball-mad junkies, it was a monumental achievement, Lithuania beating Australia en route, 98-87.

The rivalry only strengthened with Lithuania twice denying Australia the Bronze, at the 1996 Atlanta and 2000 Sydney Olympics.

The breakthrough came in Beijing where - from the current team in China - Andrew Bogut led the scoring with 23 points (on 10-of-12 shooting), Patty Mills added 13, David Barlow 10 and Joe Ingles two in a 106-75 rout. Ultimately though, it was Lithuania playing for Bronze and Australia 7th.

When they last met three years ago at the Rio Olympics, Australia won 90-64 with Mills scoring 24, Aron Baynes 16, Matty Dellavedova 15, Ingles 10 and Bogut with six points, seven rebounds and six assists.

If beating Canada was essential and escaping Senegal key, then tomorrow night's game looms as one of the most important yet in this ongoing competitive rivalry.

Australia V Lithuania - International Tournaments

Olympic Games

1992 Barcelona, Spain: Lithuania 98 d Boomers 87 {0-1}

1996 Atlanta, USA: Lithuania 80 d Boomers 74 (Bronze Medal playoff) {0-2}

2000 Sydney, Australia: Lithuania 89 d Boomers 71 (Bronze Medal playoff) {0-3}

2004 Athens, Greece: Lithuania 100 d Boomers 85 {0-4}

2008 Beijing, China: Boomers 106 d Lithuania 75 {1-4}

2012 London, England: Did not meet, Australia 7th, Lithuania 8th

2016 Rio, Brazil: Boomers 90 d Lithuania 64 {2-4}

Olympic record: Lithuania 4, Australia 2

FIBA World Cup/World Championship

1994 Toronto, Canada: Lithuania did not qualify, Australia 5th

1998 Athens, Greece: Boomers 71 d Lithuania 61 {1-0}

2002 Indianapolis, USA: Boomers, Lithuania did not qualify

2006 Hamamatsu & Saitama, Japan: Lithuania 78 d Boomers 57 {1-1}

2010 Istanbul, Turkey: Did not meet, Lithuania Bronze, Australia 10th

2014 Gran Canaria, Spain: Boomers 82 d Lithuania 75 {2-1}

World Cup record: Australia 2, Lithuania 1

Overall: Lithuania 5, Australia 4

Sep 4

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