The second semi-final tomorrow morning is probably the most important game in Boomers history. The stars have aligned by pitting Spain against the USA in the other semi-final, the two main contenders for the gold medal. With those two knocking each other senseless, Australia has the easier (but still not easy) route against a team they’ve already beaten in Serbia.
W 86-62 vs. Venezuela
L 80-95 vs. Australia
L 75-76 vs. France
L 94-91 vs. the USA
W 94-60 vs. China
W 86-83 vs. Croatia (Quarter Final)
Points – Miroslav Raduljica – 16.7
Rebounds – Nikola Jokic – 5.5
Assists – Milos Teodosic – 5.8
Starting Five: Milos Teodosic, Stefan Markovic, Nikola Kalinic, Milan Macvan, Miroslav Raduljica
Most Important Player – Miroslav Raduljica
In the group stage game preview, Milos Teodosic was named the most important player and he will definitely be a major concern for the Boomers but Raduljica should also be a chief focus. His rebounding numbers are atrocious for a seven-foot-tall centre, averaging 2.8 boards a game but his scoring is top shelf. Against Australia in the group game, he poured in 25 points against excellent defenders in Andrew Bogut and Aron Baynes. Raduljica also dropped 16 points on 7/9 shooting against France and 18 points on 6/8 field goals in Serbia’s three-point loss to the USA. He may not do much else on the court but when the game comes down to the crunch the Boomers don’t want to this guy getting hot.
What we must do
1. Play strong. The way the Boomers’ guards hassled Lithuania’s star Mantas Kalnietis all game and the strength and attitude Australia’s big men dominated inside against America is intoxicating to watch. It gives everyone on the team a massive boost in confidence and gives them the ability to go on momentum building runs.
2. Pass and run the sets like all the other games. The Boomers are assisting on 80% of all made field goals throughout the tournament which is simply mind boggling. It’s obviously leading all teams in that category and will need to be a massive focus for the team. Keep passing and being unselfish and good things will follow.
3. Win. In a slightly disappointing Olympic Games for the Australian contestants in general, a win here would bring a huge amount of joy to the team. And to the entire Australian population.
What we need to avoid
1. Let Serbia control the game. This game needs to be played on the Boomers’ terms. If the Serbians can get into their sets early and easily while the Australians fuss and worry about with the ball it’s not going to end well.
2. Have Serbia’s guards take off. Bogdan Bogdanovic had his best game of the tournament in Serbia’s quarter-final match against Croatia with 18 points, 5 assists and 3 steals while Milos Teodosic had 9 points and 10 assists. Teodosic hasn’t shot well throughout the Olympics (30.4% FG) but he’s definitely known to turn it on when it counts. Dellavedova, Mills, Lisch and Martin can’t let these two take off.
3. Let the occasion deflate them. This team is primed for greatness but they can’t get stage fright now. With the mindset this team has shown all throughout the Olympics, it’s hard to think that they will choke but big games affect people differently.
Australia by 12 points. The Serbians will come out firing and look for revenge against the team that beat them in the group stage but the way the Australians have been playing it’s going to be too hard to overcome.