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Boomers refocus on USA after thumping Argentina

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Patty Mills was quick to remind his Boomers teammates they “hadn’t done s**t yet” after dominating Argentina to set up an Olympic semi-final against the United States.

In his fourth Games, Australian flag bearer Mills has made it his mission to secure the Boomers a maiden men’s basketball medal.

There was plenty to suggest they’re close in a 97-59 quarter-final dismantling of Argentina, Australia scoring the first 19 points of the final quarter to streak clear after a nervy start.

But Mills remembers a 90-64 defeat of Lithuania in the corresponding game five years ago in Rio, which came before they were eventually denied bronze in a gutting one-point loss to Spain.

They’ve finished fourth in similarly brutal circumstances at a World Cup since.   

“The message to the boys after was that we’re back where we wanted to be and it’s been a long couple of years,” Mills, who scored a game-high 18 points, said.

“But the message is that we haven’t done s**t yet … to be able to be the best we have to beat the best and we have an opportunity in front of us to take that next step.”

The United States have won the last three Olympic titles but the gloss has faded on the once invincible outfit, Gregg Popovich’s men finishing seventh at the 2019 World Cup and losing their last two games played against the Boomers.

They were also beaten by France to begin their Tokyo campaign but have improved in every game since, Kevin Durant starring in a solid quarter-final defeat of Spain earlier on Tuesday.

The Boomers lost 98-88 to the United States in the pool stage in Rio and were beaten by 33 and 31 points in their previous two Olympic campaigns.

But Mills says there’s “plenty of reasons” why they can turn the tables.

“We’ve been to this stage many times and haven’t crossed the line, but we’ve bottled those experiences up,” he said.

“We’re well prepared for this moment and stage to make the next step.

“There’s a togetherness and camaraderie and focus that’s sharp.

“That collective unit; it’s powerful, it’s a culture thing, an Australian spirit thing.”

The veteran San Antonio guard Mills had been linked to moves to heavyweight teams the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets as NBA free agency creates a unique Olympic subplot.

“My mindset is with my country and this team, my heart is with my country,” he said of how he deals with the distraction.

“We’re on a mission here and we always talk about having no distractions … we’re in the trenches together and not going to let anything come in the way of that.” 

AAP

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