Venezuela shocked the basketball world last year by beating Argentina in the final of the FIBA Americas tournament 76-71, however no upset is expected when the South American surprise entry faces Australia on Monday morning.
The Venezuelans sit in 5th place in Group A with 1 win and 3 losses so far in the tournament, accounting only for China on the back of continued heroics from their leader, burly big man Gregory Echenique who leads the team in efficiency (13.8), points (11.5 ppg), and rebounds, a lowly 4.2 per game.
Australia can expect to face a small, quick, and athletic team which will struggle to contain the likes of Andrew Bogut and Aron Baynes in the key. The Venezuelans have struggled to score during the Olympics, their highest being 72 points against China, while their defense allows opposition teams 90.8 points per game on average. The Boomers will keep Venezuela off the boards, out of the paint, and should dominate them on the scoreboard.
The only glimmer of hope Venezuela might have of an upset might be the fact that they stuck with Team USA for the first quarter of their pool game, tying scores at 18-all. A team that can keep pace with the Americans for any length of time deserves respect, but as long as the Boomers execute on offense and battle on defense there is no reason that Venezuela would pose a realistic threat.
Australia runs a sophisticated and deceptive offense, powered by the passing of Matthew Dellavedova (10.5 assists per game) and the screens of Andrew Bogut, which often leads to open baskets for cutters. Venezuela will simply be overrun by the Boomers offensively and the game should be over for all intents and purposes before halftime.
The Boomers are likely to manage the minutes of their stars leading into the sudden death quarterfinals. The star players will certainly suit up and play to stay in good form, but there will be plenty of minutes for Damian Martin, Brock Motum and Chris Goulding.
Australia will look to revisit the execution that has taken them to second place in the pool, and they should also bring their trademark intensity back after it went missing in their big win to China.
Prediction: Australia by 37
Australia vs Venezuela will be played 7:30 am AEST Monday.