Andrew Bogut exceeded all expectations - including his own - with a powerhouse performance as Australia trounced France 87-66 to open an Olympic men's basketball tournament with a win for the first time in 20 years.
Bogut was initially considered unlikely to even make it to Rio after damaging his knee in game five of the NBA finals in June.
But the newly-minted Dallas Maverick underwent a gruelling rehab program and recovered in the nick of time, showing on Saturday why he was so crucial to the Boomers' chances of Olympic success in Rio.
He had 18 points on nine-of-10 shooting, five assists and four rebounds and was also an imposing figure on the defensive end.
"I didn't know how I was going to pull up," said Bogut, whose first points came courtesy of an alley-oop pass from Matthew Dellavedova.
"But when you make your first basket in an Olympic Games it helps get your confidence rolling and I felt good after that.
"Tonight everyone will be talking about offence, about dunks, about me scoring and Patty (Mills) scoring, but it was won defensively.
"We knuckled down defensively. Before the tournament we said that we need to be pricks defensively.
"We need to be physical because that's the only chance we have to beat a lot of these teams who are a little more talented than us."
Mills had a game-high 21 points, outscoring his San Antonio teammate Tony Parker by three.
The superstar French guard threatened to take the game away from the Boomers with an astonishing 14-point second quarter, but he was only used sparingly by his coach Vincent Collet in the second half.
"I thought we did a pretty good job of throwing bodies at Parker," said Australian coach Andrej Lemanis.
"Between Delly (Dellavedova), Patty, Kevin Lisch even through Damian Martin, just making it tough for him, to wear him out over the course of 40 minutes."
The San Antonio playmaker drained 14 second-quarter points, including a buzzer beater which slashed Australia's lead to 36-33 at halftime.
Parker and his former Spurs teammate Boris Diaw - who was traded to the Utah Jazz last month - scored 25 of France's 33 first-half points between them.
Bogut continued to be an offensive threat in the third term, both as a scorer and with two superb assists for Ryan Broekhoff and Mills.
Lemanis ended up giving Bogut 22 minutes and 35 seconds of game-time, with the centre playing with heavy strapping and padding on his knee.
"He did an unbelievable job of looking after himself during the rehab period and doing what he had to do to get here," said Lemanis.
"It's a great testament to him, how much he wanted to be in the Olympics playing alongside his mates and playing for his country."
Fellow big Aron Baynes also had a considerable impact on the match, finishing with 14 points and eight rebounds.
Having won their opening match at an Olympics for the first time since the 1996 Atlanta Games, the Boomers will now turn their attention to key games against Serbia on Monday (early Tuesday AM AEST) and the United States two days later.