SYDNEY: Australian basketball authorities have angrily denied claims the national team deliberately lost a group match at the World Cup, calling the allegations “insulting” and “downright wrong”.
Basketball’s ruling body FIBA on Monday launched an investigation into Australia’s 91-83 defeat to Angola in Spain over suspicions they wanted to lose to avoid playing the United States.
“It is widely suspected that Australia lost that game in order to avoid having to face the reigning world champions USA until the semi-finals,” FIBA said, in a statement which was slammed by Basketball Australia.
The Australian body said late Tuesday: “Basketball Australia categorically rejects any suggestion that the Australian Boomers were a party to contriving the result of the 2014 FIBA World Cup game between Australia and Angola.
“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.”
Australia did not field two of their top players, Joe Ingles and Aron Baynes, for the game in Gran Canaria last Thursday, but Basketball Australia said this was so they could rest and was supported by medical advice.
“The health and wellbeing of our players is paramount. The World Cup group stage schedule of five games in six days is, put simply, gruelling,” it said.
“It takes a significant toll on athletes — and is precisely the reason why FIBA allows a roster of 12 active players.”
Australia’s defeat meant that they finished third in the group. Angola ended the group second bottom with just two wins.
The Australians went on to lose 65-64 to Turkey in the last 16 on Sunday to crash out of the tournament altogether.
Basketball Australia will state its case to FIBA before the ruling body decides whether disciplinary sanctions are imposed.
“We look forward to a resolution which closes the book on these fundamentally inaccurate allegations,” the Australian governing body said.