LONDON – NBA guard Patrick Mills sored 39 points and Australia rallied from a 15-point deficit in the third quarter to rout winless Britain 106-75 on Saturday and secure a berth in the Olympic medal playoffs.
The Aussie Boomers improved to 2-2 in Group B and secured the fourth seed for Wednesday’s quarter-finals. Australia would face the US NBA Dream Team if the unbeaten Americans beat Argentina on Monday in the last preliminary game.
“I want to make sure we continue to play with spirit,” Aussie coach Brett Brown said. “That’s what I look forward to mostly whoever we play.”
Britain took a 51-36 lead 66 seconds into the second half on a 3-pointer by Joel Freeland, but the Aussies answered with a 17-2 run to equalize at 53-53.
“They got in one of those zones where everything seemed to go in,” Britain coach Chris Finch said.
A 3-pointer by Matt Dellavedova midway into the third quarter gave the Aussies their first lead at 56-55 and started a 13-2 run before Britain’s Dan Clark hit a 3-pointer to pull Britain within 66-60 after three quarters.
But Australia answered by scoring the first 18 points of the fourth quarter to seal Britain’s fate, Mills pouring in 10 during the pivotal streak.
“How can you explain that?” Brown said. “That’s as exciting as anything I have been a part of. To be part of such a massive turnaround is something nobody would expect. It was a defining moment.”
Mills said the Aussies were due for a hot-shooting night and came up with it when it mattered most.
“To come away with a win, and how we done it, that’s up there with the best,” Mills said. “A great team effort. It was one we needed, a bit of desperation on our part.”
Freeland had 16 points and Clark added 14 to lead Britain, which fell to 0-4 alongside China. Both became the first teams eliminated from medal contention. They meet on Monday to see which will avoid a winless Olympics.
“We want to play well and end on a high note with a victory,” Finch said.
Britain needed a special decision by world governing body FIBA to secure a host berth in the basketball tournament because of its lowly station among the world powers, but proved worthy on the court by battling reigning European champion Spain before falling 79-78.
“We came here to win games but at the same time we’ve represented British basketball very well,” British starter Drew Sullivan said.
“Results haven’t gone our way but we’ve shown a lot of talent comes from Britain.
“We can walk out of here with our heads held high. We’ve given 100 percent every game every day.”