Warrnambool export Nathan Sobey and the Australian Boomers are a step closer to a quarter-final berth at the Tokyo Olympics.
Sobey saw more minutes as the Boomers won a 86-83 nail-biter against Italy at Saitama Super Arena on Wednesday night.
The unbeaten Boomers are on top of their group with two victories after defeating Nigeria on Sunday.
They have a match-up with Germany on Saturday at 6.20pm (AEST).
Sobey got on court at the start of the second quarter and was in the thick of the action straight away, taking shots and helping set up plays.
Scores were level at quarter-time.
Captain Patty Mills was leading the way with seven of the Boomers' first 17 points.
A Matisse Thybulle drive and dunk was a highlight of the opening stanza.
The Aussies had the game at 30-30 halfway through the second quarter but the Italians ramped up their pressure and jumped out to a six-point lead.
The game changed quickly. A three-point swish from Joe Ingles and a Jock Landale finish, from a turnover, had the Boomers back within a point.
The Italians fouled out and the Aussies hit four free-throws before the main break (Italy up 45-44).
Italy burst out of the gates in the third quarter with Achille Polonara hitting a three-pointer.
The Aussies knuckled down on defence which saw the Italians cough up the ball in attack.
Mills was streaming down the court and the Boomers' big men, Aron Baynes and Landale, were strong under the basket.
A Polonara three took it back to 58-55 before Mills drained a mammoth shot beyond the arc to make it a six-point advantage.
The Boomers went to the final break leading 65-62.
Thybulle's defence, something which he is renowned for in the NBA, was impressive early in the fourth quarter.
Italy hit a three-pointer early to square it up but the Boomers responded immediately through Nic Kay who sunk a three.
Ingles also nailed one from beyond the arc to put Australia up 71-67 with about seven minutes to go.
Neither team scored for more than two minutes as the game hung in the balance.
Landale was stoked to make a three-pointer after having just missed his second free-throw and put the Boomers up 75-67.
There was a time-out at 80-73 with two minutes and 28 seconds to go.
Italy's Nico Mannion was keeping his team in the contest in the tense final minutes.
It was 82-79 when Thybulle went to the free-throw line and hit both attempts
Mannion fouled Mills with eight seconds to go and the Aussie skipper hit both to make it tough for the Italians.
Mannion drove through the Boomers' defence to make it 86-83 with four seconds left.
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