CHRIS DUTTON August 05, 2012
Star of the show ... Patrick Mills, left, drives to the basket. Photo: AP
He destroyed Britain and now Patrick Mills has set his sights on leading the Australian Boomers to one of the biggest upsets in Olympic Games basketball history.
Mills's breathtaking performance and 39-point haul finally restored Australian pride and now the Boomers are preparing to take on the United States in the next stage of the tournament in London.
Mills single-handedly lifted the Boomers to a 106-75 victory over the host nation yesterday morning.
The Canberra point guard's individual points tally was the biggest of the 2012 Olympics so far. It was a shining light in an overall Australian campaign in London which has failed to deliver the gold medals of the past.
Britain dominated Australia in the rowing and the cycling, but Mills delivered a reminder that the Boomers are still supreme on the court.
The Beijing Olympics launched him from college star into the NBA four years ago. The London Olympics will catapult him from the fringes in the world's best league to a player capable of dominating a league of superstars.
It's no wonder Boomers coach Brett Brown said two days ago he would love ''a whole team of [Mills]''.
''This is what we play for, personally [the Olympics] is what I play for,'' Mills said.
''The NBA finals are great, but to play for your country on a big stage like this, the importance of that game was unbelievable.
''To come away with a win, it's up there with the best [games] I've been a part of … I'll remember it for a while.''
Mills's parents Benny and Yvonne were in the crowd as the 23-year-old from Monash left a path of destruction at the Basketball Arena.
With the Boomers hopes of advancing to the next stage of the competition slipping away, it was the pint-sized Mills who took control of the match.
The Boomers trailed by 15 points when Mills inspired one of the most amazing second-half comebacks.
He was unstoppable driving to the basket with his lightning speed and finally found his rhythm from three-point range.
It triggered a 70-29 second half for the Boomers and his personal haul of 39 was outstanding.
Not even the superstars from the United States - including greats LeBron James or Kobe Bryant - have scored that many points in London. And Mills will get a monster test of his talent against the best in the world, with the Boomers to take on the US in the quarter-finals.
The Boomers will play Russia tonight [Australian time] in their last pool game before moving to the next stage of the tournament.
''People don't understand the work he put in before he came back to Australia,'' Brown said.