The Boomers have begun their Tokyo Olympics campaign with a gritty 84-67 victory over Nigeria at Saitama Super Arena.
- Patty Mills led the scoring for the Boomers with a game-high 25 points
- The Boomers led 43-40 at half-time before building on their lead in the final two quarters
- They play Italy and Germany in their remaining group games
After a tight opening two quarters, the Boomers held a narrow three-point lead at half-time and it was not until the final quarter that they began to truly exert their dominance.
Australia’s performance could not be described as polished, with 22 turnovers set to be scrutinised in their post-game review.
Patty Mills, playing two days after serving as one of Australia’s flag-bearers at the opening ceremony, scored a game-high 25 points.
Dante Exum and Joe Ingles made valuable contributions for the Boomers with 11 points each.
Obi Emegano led the scoring for Nigeria with a 12-point haul.
The Boomers, who have never won an Olympic medal, will next play Italy on Wednesday and then Germany on Saturday to conclude the group stage.
Nigeria, featuring a roster laden with NBA players, was always going to be a tricky opponent for the Boomers.
Nigerian coach Mike Brown used a stronger line-up than the one that went down to the Boomers in the pre-Olympics exhibition series in Las Vegas earlier this month.
The opening quarter was a see-sawing affair, with the lead changing hands between the Boomers and Nigeria on more than one occasion.
The Boomers led 21-14 at one stage but three consecutive three-pointers — including two from Chimezie Metu — saw Nigeria moved ahead 23-21 as quarter-time approached.
Exum landed a late basket for the Boomers to level scores at 23-23 at the end of the first period.
The arm wrestle continued in the second quarter, however the Boomers were able to establish a slight buffer on the scoreboard late in the term, with a Mills three-pointer and an Exum slam dunk among the highlights.
The Boomers reached half-time with a 43-40 advantage and they quickly opened a nine-point lead early in the third quarter off the back of three-pointers to Mills and Matthew Dellavedova.
The lead stretched out to 53-42 as the quarter progressed but Nigeria clawed its way back and trailed by just four points with two minutes left in the term.
The Boomers were able to give themselves some breathing space when Ingles drained a three-pointer to set up a 58-52 scoreline at three-quarter time.
The final quarter saw the Australians lift another gear and they eventually closed out the game with a 26-15 return for the quarter.