MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Australia assistant coach Luc Longley says the Boomers’ upset win over the United States on Saturday in a pre-World Cup basketball exhibition game means they’ll go to China with opposing teams thinking of them in a whole new way.
“If anyone was sleeping on us they’d be awake now,” Longley said before the Australian squad flew out from Melbourne on Monday. Australia’s World Cup campaign starts on Sunday against Canada.
A three-time NBA championship winner with the Chicago Bulls, Longley said the 98-94 win on Saturday, ending a run of 78 straight wins by the U.S. men, was “a bit of an Everest of basketball.”
“We recognize it was a friendly but I don’t think you can convince the players it was a friendly,” Longley said. “They were out there playing as hard as I’ve seen them play and that was fantastic to see pre-World Cup.”
Longley acknowledged that U.S. coach Gregg Popovich was experimenting with his playing combination “but nonetheless it was a great win and people acknowledge that.”
After the Canada game, Australia plays Senegal and Lithuania in group games.
The Australian men’s team is aiming to win a medal for the first time at any major international tournament. In 2016 at the Rio Olympics, Australia lost to Spain by one point in the bronze medal playoff game.
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