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Australia issues statement denying it tried to lose game to Angola

Australian forward Joe Ingles celebrates

Australian forward Joe Ingles celebrates

AFP/Getty Images

What else were they going to say?

FIBA is investigating if Australia intentionally lost its final World Cup group game to Angola for the reason of getting on the other side of the knockout bracket and away from Team USA as long as possible. Goran Dragic rightfully called Australia on it.

(It worked in that Australia got to the other side of the bracket, but then the team lost its first game of the knockout stage to Turkey. The best laid plans of mice and men….)

Australia released a statement denying they tried to throw the game.

The Australian Boomers went into the game against Angola to win — plain and simple. Claims to the contrary are widely speculative, insulting to the Australian sporting culture and to our playing group who gave their very best throughout this tournament. They’re downright wrong.

Basketball Australia has put a strong and detailed case to FIBA outlining why the decision was made to rest injured players and restrict playing time for fatigued players during the last game day of Group D. That decision was supported by clear and definitive medical advice.

I call BS on that.

If Australia had needed to win that game, would they have played it this way? No. Did they benefit from a loss? Yes.

Australia played their best guys the first half against Angola, were up double digits and decided if they won they got the Americans in the second round and pulled their guys so they could avoid the USA another round (in theory). For the record, let me note that in trying to tank the game they played Dante Exum a lot (sorry Jazz fans). That they can get the team doctor who is paid by the team to back up the claim, and that they can make a case they just wanted to rest guys before the knockout stage, is moot. Their intentions were clear here, they were the better team trying not to win.

I think the bigger finger should be pointed at FIBA itself for creating a system where tanking is a good idea. Not that the NBA has figured that out, but Australia did what the system called for. FIBA should look in the mirror when assigning blame.