<
>

Where to now for Boomers after 2016 Rio Olympic Games?

The Olympics are in the books and unfortunately for the Boomers it was a dose of history repeating; they walked away empty handed once again yet this one seems to hurt more.

The Boomers arrived at Rio 2016 ranked No. 11 in the FIBA standings, with high levels of internal belief, but the expectations held outside the playing group were all around the same train of thought: 'Tough opponent, not expected to medal.'

That train of thought proved accurate in the end, but not before upset victories against France and Serbia, a strong effort that pushed the United States to their limits, and a resounding victory against world No. 3 Lithuania in the quarterfinals; the world was there for the taking, but that's when the Boomers fell apart and Serbia took control of their semifinal to knock Australia out of gold medal contention.

The Boomers produced easily their worst effort of the tournament against Serbia, but they showed admirable fortitude and resilience to recover and take it right up to the world No. 2-ranked Spaniards; if not for a dubious call, the would have claimed the bronze medal and a piece of Australian basketball history.

So what does the future hold for the Boomers?

There certainly have big holes to fill with Andrew Bogut and David Andersen having surely contested their last Olympics campaign. Bogut is the defensive stalwart of this side, Andersen the spark off the bench., but consider the names the Boomers have to welcome to the team list: Ben Simmons, Thon Maker and Dante Exum; you couldn't ask for a better passing of the torch if you tried.

Simmons will comfortably slot into the starting five alongside Aron Baynes in the frontcourt, while Maker can become the focal point of the second unit with Exum.

If we're to look into our crystal ball and jump ahead to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, we could see a Boomers side with the following depth:

Patty Mills, in Tokyo, will be attending his fourth Olympics with the Boomers, having been leading scorer in all three previous Games. He never fails to show up on the big stage, and that has led many pundits, including assistant coach Luc Longley, to say that Mills deserves his shot as a starting point guard in the NBA - experience that can only further help the Boomers' cause.

Matthew Dellavedova signed recently with Milwaukee Bucks, with whom he will assume the backup role behind Michael Carter-Williams; however, he may not be playing backup for long given his terrific Rio campaign and his championship experience.

Ryan Broekhoff showed glimpses of his potential in Rio, and you'd expect that he can shine more brightly with another four years of experience under his belt.

Simmons, meanwhile, will replace Bogut as the face of Australian basketball for years to come; he'll contend for NBA Rookie of the Year honours in the coming season, and is the man to lead Philadelphia out of the dark times.

Maker joins Dellavedova in Milwaukee as an unknown prodigy, a gifted athlete with exceptional length who was an outside-the-box pick when taken at No. 10 in the 2016 NBA Draft. His raw tools and x-factor abilities will come in handy in the NBA and on the international stage.

And then, of course, Australia also has Exum to consider; he has played only one NBA season with Utah but the presence of George Hill as his new mentor can only do great things for his development.

Throw it all together and the Boomers will no longer be classified as a team at the Olympics just there to make up the numbers.

They'll leave Rio with a sour taste in the mouth after smelling the essence of glory, but disappointment can be a powerful motivation for players who believed -- even when others didn't -- that they were a genuine medal chance.

With the likely future playing list, they will have even deeper belief.