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Andrew Bogut wants Australia targeting gold, not just its first medal

The Australia men’s basketball team has never medaled in the Olympics, thrice finishing fourth.

But the Aussies could land on the podium this year.

Australia has been the second-most impressive team in Rio – thumping France, beating Serbia and challenging the United States. The Australians should be heavily favored against China and Venezuela, and then it’s on to the knockout stage.

There, Boomer center Andrew Bogut wants his teammates aiming higher than the program’s first medal.

Bogut, via Sam Amick of USA Today:

“No disrespect to the U.S., but we don’t want to go into the tournament aiming for second or fourth or ninth,” said Bogut, who had 15 points on seven-of-nine shooting. “You should go in with the mindset of trying to be first, and if they beat you they beat you.

“Just like an NBA team, you want to have the goal of trying to be there at the end. What’s the point of playing otherwise? So I think we had that mindset from the start, and the guys were kind of afraid to say, ‘gold medal.’ They’d say ‘Let’s get a medal,’ and we said as a group, ‘No, let’s go for gold,’ and then we’ll live with what we get after that if we don’t get it.”

This is the right mindset to take for now. But if the Australians end up with the silver or bronze medal, they should be proud of their showing.

Team USA is a juggernaut. There’s no shame in placing second or third this year.

With Ben Simmons, Dante Exum and Thon Maker in the pipeline, the Australians could build on this success and be even more dangerous in 2020.