SYDNEY - Australia has reacted furiously to allegations that its team deliberately lost a game at the World Cup last week, saying they were "downright wrong" and an insult to the country's sporting culture.
Basketball's world governing body, Fiba, opened disciplinary proceedings against Australia on Monday over suspicions that they had lost a game against Angola in order to delay an encounter with powerhouse the United States.
"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," read a statement released yesterday.
"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."
Few crimes are perceived as being more heinous in Australian sport than giving less than 100 per cent at all times, or "tanking", as it is known in local vernacular.
At the World Cup in Spain on Thursday, the Boomers - who rested two of their top players, Joe Ingles and Aron Baynes - were beaten 91-83 by Angola in the group stage.
The result ensured that Australia finished third instead of second in their preliminary pool.
Angola ended the group second-last, with just two wins.
"The on-court behaviour displayed by Australia in that game generated huge disappointment by basketball fans and experts," Fiba said.
"It is widely suspected that Australia lost the game in order to avoid having to face reigning world champions USA until the semi-finals."
Basketball Australia said it was cooperating with the Fiba probe and had put forward a "strong and detailed" case explaining why they had rested some players because of injury, and restricted the game time of others because of fatigue.
The Boomers were eliminated in a 65-64 defeat by Turkey in the first knockout round last Sunday.
The World Cup final takes place this Sunday.