Josh Giddey, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Josh Giddey (3) will face Oklahoma City Thunder teammate Shai Gilgeous-Alexander at the Olympics. Image by AP PHOTO
  • basketball

Boomers set tough task to repeat Games podium

Murray Wenzel March 20, 2024

Josh Giddey is on an Olympic collision course with superstar teammate Shai Gilgeous-Alexander after the Boomers’ NBA-laden Paris path was revealed.

The Olympic basketball draw was conducted in Switzerland on Wednesday morning (AEDT), the Boomers done no favours as they look to defend a historic bronze won in Tokyo three years ago.

Australia’s men will play World Cup bronze medallists Canada as well as qualifiers from two July tournaments that could include heavyweights Greece, Slovenia or Spain in a stacked Games pool.

The top two from each pool, plus the two best third-placed teams, will progress to the quarter-finals.

Canada’s men have not qualified for an Olympics since Sydney’s 2000 Games. 

But they will be among the favourites after Oklahoma City Thunder weapon Gilgeous-Alexander led them to bronze at last year’s World Cup, toppling USA in the medal match.

Their team will be brimming with NBA talent, with Jamal Murray, RJ Barrett, Kelly Olynyk, Dillon Brooks, Luguentz Dort and Dwight Powell all likely to suit up.

Spain, who enjoy a wicked recent history against Australia at major tournaments, will host a qualifying tournament in July where Poland, Finland, Angola, Lebanon and the Bahamas will also be fighting for one spot.

And Giannis Antetokounmpo is set to pilot Greece’s charge when they host another qualifying tournament that includes Luka Doncic’s Slovenia, who Australia beat to win their first Olympic silverware in 2021.

New Zealand, Egypt, Croatia and the Dominican Republic will also play in that tournament, the winner earning a spot in Australia’s pool.

Joe Ingles, Patty Mills
 Joe Ingles (left) and Patty Mills (5) are two of Australia’s established NBA talents. Image by Scott Barbour/AAP PHOTOS 

Giddey became the Boomers’ focal point at last year’s World Cup, Australia losing to eventual champions Germany and Slovenia in the first round and missing the quarter-finals.

It left coach Brian Goorjian with some tough decisions on how to best mix his emerging NBA talent with Patty Mills and Joe Ingles, who are set to play in a fifth Olympics.

Ben Simmons had flagged his desire to feature for the national team for the first time since 2013, but has since been ruled out of Brooklyn’s NBA campaign to have back surgery for the second time in three years.

USA, who have included all the biggest names such as LeBron James, Steph Curry and Kevin Durant in an extended Olympics squad, were drawn in a pool with a Serbia team likely headed by Denver’s two-time MVP and NBA champion Nikola Jokic.

Hosts France will face World Cup champions Germany, Japan and the winner of the qualifying tournament in Latvia.

Lauren Jackson
 Lauren Jackson (right) has retired from the Opals, but might be tempted back for Paris. Image by James Gourley/AAP PHOTOS 

The world No.3 Opals will play Canada, France and Nigeria, ranked fifth, seventh and 12th respectively. 

Bundled out in the quarter-finals in a disappointing Tokyo campaign, Sandy Brondello’s side were impressive in qualifying for a 10th Olympics in February’s Brazil qualifying tournament.

Opals great Lauren Jackson revealed after that tournament she would not go to Paris, but the three-time Olympics silver medallist has since left the door ajar for what would also be a fifth Games campaign.

The tournament runs from July 28 to August 11, with pool action in Lille before finals are played in Paris.