<
>

'We all believe in it' - Mills, Delly adamant Boomers can win gold

Three key pillars of Australia's Olympic basketball squad are united in their belief the Boomers can push for a drought-breaking medal at Rio - even gold.

The Boomers have never won an Olympic medal, with their best result a fourth-place finish in 1988, 1996 and 2000.

Boomers can win gold - in Tokyo, says Goorjian

Despite being weakened by the withdrawal of 2016 No.1 NBA draft pick Ben Simmons and 2014 No.5 selection Dante Exum -- and the possible unavailability of important big man Andrew Bogut (knee) - the Boomers are full of confidence ahead of next month's Games.

As the squad went through its paces during a physical scrimmage in Melbourne on Saturday, key playmakers Matthew Dellavedova and Patty Mills, and coach Andrej Lemanis, were all adamant the Aussies could push for an elusive medal, and perhaps even shock the world by claiming gold.

"Our goals are to achieve something Australia's never done before - to win a medal," San Antonio's Mills said.

"Our goal is gold - we've dreamt about it from when we were little kids, laying in bed dreaming about it, getting that gold medal put around our necks on the podium. To put that into reality [would be amazing].

"We're going to the Olympics not to just participate, but to try to win a gold medal. We all believe in it. That's the belief we have. I think it's been more felt this time around than any other program I've been involved in."

Mills' partner in crime Dellavedova, fresh off winning the NBA championship with Cleveland before a $US38.4 million move to Milwaukee, said he also had his sights firmly on the gold medal.

The 25-year-old said Australia's famous fighting spirit and team-first mentality would help the Boomers fight above their weight division at Rio.

"I think our camaraderie -- the things that make Australians Australian -- is what our big advantage is," he said. "We have a lot of guys going well all over the world but when we come back [as a squad], there's only one goal, and that's to win. We've played together for a number of years now, so the understanding on the court, our systems, we know each other on and off the court.

"We've got the most guys we've ever had playing in the NBA, we've got guys playing at a really high level in Europe, the NBL is going as well as it has for a long time, so ... we're not going to be intimidated by anybody."

Delly excited by new Bucks team-mate Thon Maker

A sign of that camaraderie was on display at Saturday's scrimmage, with Exum --who withdrew from the squad in June to focus on his recovery from a knee reconstruction in September last year - watching on intently from the sidelines, cajoling and cheering on the squad despite his unavailability for Rio.

Lemanis - who will select his 12-man squad for Rio on Monday morning - said he was confident the team at his disposal could secure a podium finish.

"Absolutely," he said. "It's something we've spoken about as a team and we believe we have enough talent and enough chemistry to go to Rio and be successful. I don't think it's any secret that as a team we've set our sights on the gold medal."

A key wildcard for the Boomers could be the inclusion of Bogut, who is battling bone bruising from last month's NBA Finals series.

His coach believes Bogut could be a key player even if he wasn't at full fitness for the Olympics.

"He's such a difference-maker, his presence is so positive for the group ... so it's worthwhile giving him every opportunity to play," Lemanis said.

"Even if he doesn't play any of the lead-in games, we're still OK with that. I'm OK with [Bogut playing at 60 or 70 percent fitness] - but it's Andrew's call, it's something only he can make a call on. But if he says he's in, I'm good with that."

The Boomers will finalise their preparation for Rio with two games against an American College All-Stars side at Melbourne's Hisense Arena on July 12 and 14.