Beware Boomers, a “fired up” Team USA is coming your way after the world’s best side received the “flick on the nose they needed” in a shock exhibition loss to Nigeria.
Australian legend and four-time Olympian Shane Heal is expecting the Americans to bring their best after suffering a historic first loss to the Nigerians.
The Boomers will head into Tuesday’s exhibition against the USA (10am AEST) full of confidence after beating the Americans in Melbourne in 2019.
The 98-94 exhibition triumph was Australia’s first win over the USA.
The Boomers recorded a 98-94 win over Team USA the last time the two teams played in Melbourne prior to the 2019 World Cup. Picture: Stuart McEvoy / The AustralianSource:News Corp Australia
The Boomers can use this win as motivation, but they will be facing a strengthened American side led by two-time NBA champion Kevin Durant.
It’s why Heal knows the Australians must be at their best to have any chance of toppling the USA.
“They will come out firing and it is the wrong time to play America,” Heal said.
“That (Nigeria loss) is probably the flick on the nose that all those guys needed.
“I think they roll in; they look at each other and understand that they are the best players in the world, but it doesn’t always translate to wins.”
Heal can also see the benefit of playing against the USA, especially if they produce their finest form.
“At the same time maybe that is a good thing because the Boomers will get America’s best shot,” he said.
“And we’re still learning as well.”
USA coach Gregg Popovich has copped his team’s poor loss to Nigeria on the chin, preferring to give the Africans credit for outshooting his team.
Popovich also knows there are more NBA players on the international stage, but he doesn’t think his star-studded side should panic.
“I don’t think we should act like this is the end of the world,” Popovich said.
“It is about everyone else deserves a lot of credit and we have to play our arse off to do this.”
Gary Payton gets in the face of Shane Heal during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Picture: Wayne LudbeySource:News Corp Australia
Star USA forward Jayson Tatum believes the Nigeria loss was the wakeup call the team needed and they will be ready to perform against Australia.
“It just shows that we have to play better,” Tatum said.
“On any given night when a team plays harder and more physical – anybody can win – and it is something we can learn from.”
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