The Australian Boomers men’s national basketball team now knows all of their first round opponents for London following the completion of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) over the weekend, with Russia confirmed to join them in Group B.
The OQT was held in Caracas, Venezuela from 2 to 8 July with the three remaining berths in London up for grabs. Those coveted spots were earned by Lithuania, Russia, and Nigeria.
The Russians were subsequently drawn to join the Boomers in Group B, along with the previously qualified teams from China, Brazil, Spain and host nation Great Britain.
The Russians are ranked 11th in the world, only marginally behind the Boomers in ninth on FIBA’s rating system. They will undoubtedly strengthen the competition in Group B, which already included world number two Spain, tenth-seed China and the 13th ranked Brazil. Great Britain (43rd) is the only Group B team not ranked in the top 13 nations in the world, but is still expected to be a difficult opponent given the certainty of fervent home team support.
Boomers head coach Brett Brown said the addition of Russia, who will face the Boomers on 6 August in the Australians’ final match of pool play, underlined the strength of the competition.
“There are only 12 spots available in London, and the competition for those spots is intense, so we’re not surprised to see Russia join us in Group B,” said Brown from the Gold Coast where the Boomers are currently in camp. “When you have 213 countries battling it out for just 12 spots, it means that only the best of the best will be in London.
“Russia has a strong local pro league and are always tough to beat internationally, because they have such great depth to choose from in a nation of 143 million people. We’re going to have our work cut out for us when we play them on August 6th, but I have no doubt our guys will represent Australia well.”
The Boomers will open their London campaign on 29 July against South American powerhouse Brazil before facing European champions Spain on 31 July. Australia will then take on China on 2 August, host nation Great Britain on 4 August and then close the preliminary round against Russia on 6 August.
All the Boomers’ group stage games will be played at the London Basketball Arena.
The Boomers qualified for London after defeating archrivals New Zealand in the 2011 FIBA Oceania Championship.
Boomers Group B Schedule for London (local UK times )
29 Jul. 11:15AM vs Brazil
31 Jul. 11:15AM vs Spain
2 Aug. 11:15AM vs China
4 Aug. 8:00PM vs Great Britain
6 Aug. 9:00AM vs Russia