The Australian Boomers are through to the semifinals of the Tokyo Olympics. The team just took one massive step closer to a medal. Let it sink in.
A win over Argentina on Tuesday night sealed a place for the Boomers in these Games' Final Four and keeps Brian Goorjian's team undefeated in Tokyo.
It was a slow start for Australia against the Argentines, but they rebounded, putting together a near-perfect second half to finish their quarterfinals matchup with a 97-59 victory.
Here are some of the key takeaways from a big Boomers win.
Matisse Thybulle's impact remains crucial
It remains incredible, but not at all surprising, how much Matisse Thybulle's mere presence has on what the Boomers do on the defensive end.
It is not just about the steals and blocks he has become known for. It is the deflections, the picture-perfect rotations, the length to disrupt what an opponent does. In the second quarter, for example, Argentina were doing a decent job of breaking through, but their execution was off, and that's down to the intensity of the Boomers' defence, led by Thybulle.
For a team with questionable shooting depth, Thybulle's ability to knock down the open three-ball has also been huge for the Boomers -- he was 3-of-5 from downtown in this one.
Against a Team USA team with a heap of NBA-level wings and athletes, Thybulle's presence on the floor will be crucial, and he comes in in rhythm.
Take a bow, Dante Exum
On Tuesday, Exum showed why he is the Boomers' X-factor.
During the first half, Australia's half-court offence looked a bit shaky. Exum came in and did an impressive job putting pressure on the defence, and getting two feet in the paint and finishing well around the rim.
Exum's take to the rim at the end of the third quarter was vital, extending the Boomers' lead to 12 going into the final period, before a dunk through traffic in the fourth which was the nail in Argentina's coffin.
He finished this one with nine points, five rebounds, three assists, and a game-high +31, and plays an important creative role for a team that lacks that type of player.
Now, onto Team USA
The Boomers should feel happy about the defensive foundation they have formed going into their semifinals matchup with Team USA, and are looking for a third straight win against Gregg Popovich's team.
Australia defeated Team USA in a pre-Olympic exhibition game, but the American team looks a lot better than the team we saw in Las Vegas. They have reps under their belt, have added Jrue Holiday, Devin Booker and Khris Middleton, and have seemingly gotten more accustomed to the ball and player movement needed to be effective in FIBA basketball.
Kevin Durant has been the go-to player for them, and that is where the Boomers' effectiveness on the defensive end may matter very little. Expect Team USA to get their points on the board, so it is up to Goorjian's team to match them.
If a team is going to down Team USA -- who have looked mortal over recent years -- it is this Australian group. But they will need to withstand the inevitable scoring runs that come from the mass of NBA superstars, and be locked into the Boomers' signature ball movement on the other end.