A demolition of world number five France and then a dismantling of world number six Serbia has the Australian Boomers’ confidence sky high. The team hasn’t just beaten these two giants, they’ve knocked them over in a way that has everyone talking about being a real medal chance. Next up is the giant of giants, the United States.
W 119-62 vs. China
W 113-69 vs. Venezuela
Points – Kevin Durant – 20.5
Rebounds – DeAndre Jordan – 8.0
Assists – Kyle Lowry – 6.0
Starting Five: Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, DeMarcus Cousins
Most Important Player – Kevin Durant
Most basketball fans around the world would know the damage Kevin Durant can do to an opposing team and his form in the USA’s first two games is spectacular. He’s leading the team in points and his shooting percentages are off the charts, hitting 79% of his attempts and an astronomical 70% of three point attempts. He’s too tall and long for smaller defenders and too quick for bigger matchups causing all kinds of headaches. The former NBA MVP is almost impossible to stop in most occasions but when he’s teamed with some of the best the world can offer it’s going to be a colossal task for the Boomers.
What we must do
1. Continue passing and being unselfish: It was a dot point in the preview for the Serbia game and it is a main priority here. The Boomers have assisted on 54 made field goals out of a total of 65 which is extremely rare. Three of the top seven in assists in the competition are Australians and just watching the team move without the ball and look for the right pass was a thing of beauty in the first two games.
2. Don’t drop your heads. In all probability, this game won’t be a close one. In the last two Olympic Games, the USA team have won all sixteen games with a winning margin of 30 points. So far in Rio the team is winning by 35.5 points. When the USA go on their scoring run we can’t let it carry on to a massive blow out.
3. See it as a learning experience. If the Boomers can learn the strengths and weaknesses of this gold medal favourite, they will be better equipped to battle for glory if Australia make it to the grand final.
What we need to avoid
1. Doing anything rash. As said before, in all probability this game will be a loss and not a close one. But if we start to lose our heads, start playing recklessly and either get injured or cause an incident, it will hinder the squad’s confidence or momentum.
2. Deviate from the game plan. Australia played so well in their first two games because they had a game plan and everyone played their part to make it succeed. If they go to hero ball or isolation heavy play and discard the fantastic passing and movement that has won the first two games, it won’t help the team or their future chances.
3. Letting this game dictate future games. The USA’s record in Olympic Games is 132-5 so it’s pretty standard for this team to win. The Boomers can’t let the momentum that they have built up in victories over France and Spain disappear because they lost to the best team in the world.
USA by 20 points. This is a loss that any Australian fan will happily take. It means that unlike previous Olympics, the Boomers lose to the Americans in the group round instead of the knock out phase. A loss here still keeps Australia as favourites for second place in the group, giving them an easier opponent in the elimination games.