Devastated Boomers too shattered to speak after loss
It was a World Cup campaign that promised so much but failed to deliver an historic podium appearance.
The Boomers' 63-year quest for a maiden men's medal continues after they fell 67-59 to France in another heartbreaking third-place game on Sunday.
The Aussies led by as many as 15 points in the third quarter but in a repeat of the Spain semi-final, they went cold and failed to execute down the stretch with poor passes and a total of 19 turnovers.
Australia have now lost all five of their bronze medal games at Olympic or World Championship level.
It's a bitter blow given the Boomers' strong campaign in China to finish fourth for the first time at a World Cup or Championships.
The Australian players were so shattered with the devastating loss that they went straight to the sheds and then the team bus without speaking to the media.
Boomers bench forward Mitch Creek was the only player that was made available to express the squad's pain.
"It's hard," Creek said.
"We just sat in the change room and you could hear a pin drop.
"But we can learn a lot from this, like playing through adversity in big moments and big games.
"We are also missing a number of high-quality players in the NBA and a few in Australia, so this team is going to be powerful when it comes to the Olympic Games."
Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis was lost for words when asked about his side's second consecutive fade-out to finish the World Cup.
"To see the hurt in those guys - that is the bit that is hard to come," Lemanis said.
"They certainly don't do it for the money. They commit their off-season because they want to represent Australia on the world stage and do something special.
"It's great to have a group of guys who are so passionate and committed to playing for their country but we just couldn't get it done."
Lemanis also revealed big man Aron Baynes was in doubt for the game with a groin sprain but he bravely played through the pain for his team.
Australia's loss to France will be compounded given they blew a golden opportunity to make the Cup final in their double overtime loss to Spain.
Despite the disappointing final two results against the French and Spain, the Boomers can walk away from the World Cup proud of their efforts.
Patty Mills dominated on the scoring front, Baynes was a physical and at times three-point beast while the emergence of Jock Landale, Nick Kay and Chris Goulding on the international stage was brilliant to watch.
On the back of Ingles' silky shooting, the Aussies kicked in the second quarter to take a comfortable 30-21 lead into the halftime break.
France wouldn't go away in the third, inspired by shooting guard Evan Fournier to reduce the Boomers' advantage to four points heading into the fourth.
The French took the lead in the opening minute of the last quarter and the Australians couldn't stop them from there.
Ingles finds form:
Joe Ingles found his shooting range after struggling in Friday's heartbreaking semi-final loss to Spain.
The Utah Jazz swingman shot a disappointing 11.1 per cent from the field, including 0 from 6 from beyond the arc, against the Spanish.
Thankfully, Ingles rediscovered his mojo versus France with a team-high 17 points while he was aggressively involved at both ends of the floor.
He also had 3 assists and 5 rebounds in an impressive performance.
Ingles copped a cut on his back in the second quarter but he had it tapped up and returned to the action more determined than ever.
Mills mixed game won't take away from his strong Cup:
Patty Mills ended a stellar World Cup with 15 points but he'll be disappointed with several costly turnovers.
Despite this, Mills is deservedly in the conversation for tournament MVP after starring at the Cup.
The veteran San Antonio Spurs guard has averaged 23.9 points and 4.1 assists.
Mills is also the first Australian since Andrew Gaze to score 22-plus points in five consecutive World Cup games
He dropped a game-high 34 points in Friday's heartbreaking loss to Spain, although he will be filthy on himself after missing a vital free-throw in the closing stages of regulation time that would have seen the Boomers through to the Cup final.
That missed shot aside, Mills stamped his position as one of the best FIBA players on the planet with his scintillating form in China.
BOGUT RISES ABOVE PUBLIC ENEMY NO.1 STATUS:
Andrew Bogut received his loudest boo of the World Cup in the third-placed game against France, only hours after a local Chinese reporter falsely accused the Boomers big man of making disparaging comments against their country.
Chinese video journalist Chen Yueze who works for Tencent Sports - the Exclusive Official Digital Partner of the FIBA World Cup - filed a "fake news" report, which has been viewed by 156 million people, claiming that the veteran centre said "F@#$ China" as he left the court after Friday's heartbreaking semi-final loss to Spain.
When someone questioned the report on Weibo - China's biggest social media platform - saying that they "can't hear it", Yueze doubled down.
Bogut put aside the fans' boos and false accusations to finish with 5 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists.
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