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The Australian men’s basketball team have been buoyed by the return of star center Andrew Bogut, who had his first hit out in more than six weeks in the Boomers’ 82-53 Olympic Games warm-up win against China.
Bogut took straight to the court with his knee heavily strapped against the Chinese and played the first six minutes of the match in a good sign he’ll be right to participate in the Boomers’ Olympic campaign.
And it didn’t take long for the newly minted Dallas Maverick to be in the thick of the action, the 31-year-old remonstrating with China’s NBA draft pick Qi Zhou for apparently elbowing him in the face.
Bogut went on to play nine minutes and finished with three rebounds and an assist.
Joe Ingles led the way for the Boomers and looked in fine touch with a game-high 21 points on nine of 12 shooting as well as six rebounds.
Coach Andrej Lemanis used 11 players in the Australians’ final warm-up fixture, though point guard Patty Mills sat out the match.
Assistant coach Luc Longley was happy to see Bogut back on court.
“I think his first game back from an injury is always difficult. We’re fairly happy with how he moved, how he looked on the court and will build from that,” he said.
Former NBA No.1 draft pick Bogut had been under an injury cloud but was named in the Boomers’ squad for the Games, the Australians desperately seeking his defensive nous and physicality to improve their chances of a maiden men’s Olympic basketball medal in Rio.
Bogut had sustained a knee injury after a heavy fall during the fifth game of the NBA Finals, in which his Golden State Warriors fell to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and had not played since mid-June.
He was subsequently traded to the Mavericks for the 2016-17 season.
Good win Boomers! Got some rust off (but not much) individually…..
— Andrew Bogut (@andrewbogut) July 31, 2016
A championship winner with Golden State, Bogut has spoken little about his injury over the past month, and has instead been in the headlines more for a Twitter feud with Australian women’s player Liz Cambage.
The Boomers offered up a mixed bag in their past four matches, book-ending the clashes with wins over world No.4 Argentina and China but suffering substantial losses to Brazil and Lithuania.
Australia’s Olympic campaign starts with a match against France on Aug. 6, the U.S. also featuring in their group.
“We’re ready [but] we haven’t played great yet,” Longley said.