Team USA vs the Stunners from Down Under

Team USA 2

By Ashley Douglas,

For those of you who thought Team USA Men’s Basketball would dominate their way through the Olympic Games in Rio, think again. The face-off between USA and Australia today was a nail biter that got a little too close for comfort. The hometown heroes eventually pulled off the W, but not without a fight from the boys down under.

The NBA has a staggering 46 players competing in the Olympics this year which goes to show how international the association has become. The entire 12 players for the United States play for the NBA, while Australia brings 5 to their lineup. Given the high level of training these athletes receive playing for the league, the playing field is a little more even for everyone when the Olympics come around. This is good for the fans because we get to watch great basketball at a global level.

Coming into the game on Wednesday, the United Stated was undefeated winning their first two match-ups against China and Venezuela by a landslide. However, the Australian National Team is not to be over looked as their lineup boasts NBA players like Andrew Bogut, Matthew Dellavedova, and Patty Mills to name just a few.

It was a close game from tip off as both the US and Australia scored 29 in the first quarter. Australia was more successful at getting the ball closer to the rim as 4 of their shots were scored in the paint compared to only 2 in the paint for the US. Carmelo Anthony raked in big points right from the get go scoring a 12 points–all from beyond the arc. Comparatively, the Aussies only missed 6 of their shots in the 1st while the US missed a staggering 15 of the shot attempts they made. Tied up, looking at a high shooting percentage from the opponent, the US had their work cut out for them if they wanted to win this game.

Australia came on strong in the second, outscoring the US 25-20 giving them a 5 point lead in the game. Bogut dominated in the paint scoring a couple of very impressive dunks on the US. Patty Mills also contributed with a couple jumpers and a layup, and David Andersen made a valuable contribution with 6 points from mid-range. The US spread the scoring love in the second seeing 6 different players make a contribution to the score. Our boys did a good job of taking the ball to the rim, but were unsuccessful in 6 of our shooting attempts inside the paint, 14 overall. Australia continued to shoot with great accuracy missing only three of their shot attempts.

Team USA made a comeback in the 3rd outscoring Australia by 8—21-13. The US had great ball movement, again, with 6 scorers making contributions. Eight of the 21 points Team USA scored in the 3rd were scored inside the paint which is a credit to Coach K for encouraging his players to not simply settle for the three point attempts. Australia fell victim to stellar US defense in the 3rd as they only were able to sink 5 shots while missing the other 12 they attempted. The United States missed a whopping 15 of their shot attempts in the 3rd dragging our shooting percentage down to a dangerous 34%.

The game entered the final quarter with the US ahead by only 3 points and the Aussies well within reach of the victory. That’s when the Carmelo Anthony and Kyrie Irving show began. Anthony and Irving contributed the lion’s share of the 28 points scored in the 4th quarter with more than half coming from beyond the arc. Australia wasn’t going down without a fight as they battled their way to the rim to score 14 points from inside the paint. The United States defense kicked into high gear causing Australia to miss 12 of their shot attempts, while the Aussies weren’t able to defend as well losing the fourth 28-21 and the game overall 98-88.

Carmelo “Ball Hog” Anthony stole the show for the United States scoring 31 of the team’s 98 points while Patty Mills led the way for the Australians scoring an impressive 30 points. As usual, the team with the most rebounds wins, and the US outrebounded Australia 47-40 in Wednesdays’ game, but lost in the assist category 23-17. We were only able to see one entertaining block by DeAndre Jordan, while Bogut cleaned up with a total of 3 blocks. The United States saw 3 players in double digit points while Australia saw 4. I think it’s safe to say both teams could improve a little on ball movement.

So far, Wednesday’s game was the most entertaining game the United States Men’s Basketball team has played in Rio. I expect that as the games progress we will see some more stiff competition and some closer games. When the US plays Spain we may have a run for our money as 7 of the team’s players also play for the NBA. I also expect we will see some stiff competition as we come up against the ferocious French National Team.

I look forward to a more balanced Olympic Games this year in Rio as far as men’s basketball is concerned. As always, I hope to see the United States take home the gold, but I also hope they get to earn it by playing some very talented teams! Go Team USA!

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