The Australian national team, headed by Spurs’ assistant Brett Brown, is an innately scrappy team. Devoid of top-tier NBA talent, they seem to hold their own because of their collective strength rather than individual talent.
Their headliner, Patty Mills, struggled to earn minutes on the Spurs. But with the team relying on Mills for the majority of their offense; he’s allowed to create for himself — which is the strongest facet of his game. He can adapt to a space-intensive team like San Antonio but it isn’t ideal.
Pitted against the second-ranked team in the world, Mills totaled 14 points and four assists. This kind of performance comes at an opportune time considering he reached an official agreement with the Spurs worth approximately $2.2 million over two seasons according to Mark Deeks of Sham Sports. The second season is a player option.
Spain edged out a six-point victory on the strength of Pau Gasol, who totaled 22 points and six rebounds. Gasol simmered down in the second half after scoring 14 points along with four rebounds. Australia kept pace and the score was knotted at 35 prior to the third quarter. They were behind for the majority of the game though they held a lead at various points in the second quarter.
Their success did not last however. Spain chipped away at the Boomers and won by sheer attrition.
It wasn’t an easy win by any stretch of the imagination. Mills’ imaginative scoring ability coupled with other shooters (sound familiar?) will assure that Australia will be a tough team to beat — even if their best player isn’t a NBA star.