USA 113-69 VENEZUELA
After convincingly defeating China in their Rio debut, the United States broke out of the blocks timidly against Venezuela, before gathering momentum to go on and thrash the South Americans 113-69.
At this point, the common perception of the USA is that it is only themselves who can get in the way of a record 15th gold medal. And this seems to be the case when considering the level of talent on their roster in Rio and the scale of defeat they are inflicting on their recent opposition.
Venezuela’s scrappy defense frustrated Team USA as DeMarcus Cousins and DeAndre Jordan were caught in foul trouble early on. Seven turnovers from the Americans in the first quarter displayed the lack of attention of the court.
Due to the strength of the American team, they naturally look to put on a show when against inferior opposition. However, against Venezuela this initially backfired, as the slow place didn’t allow the U.S. to break away quickly at ease.
“They try to control tempo and did for a long period of time. They make you play defense, and then we fouled a lot as a result of that, because you have to play it longer,” USA coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “We didn’t get a good offensive rhythm because of their defense, and then in the second quarter, our defense picked up. I thought Jimmy (Butler) was a huge factor in that. He just came in and really gave us a big lift. I thought DeAndre (Jordan), those two guys defensively kind of picked the whole thing up for us. I think we wore them down as the game went along.”
The U.S. switched on before half-time as Carmelo Anthony led a 24-4 run to lead into the break comfortably ahead. Anthony finished the game with 14 points and in consequence, usurped Michael Jordan as the top scorer in U.S. Olympic History.
The bench also played a big part in the win as they chipped in with 70 points, 20 of which came from Indiana forward Paul George.
They will now face a much tougher opponent in Australia who have so far been very impressive in securing an unbeaten run at the Olympics.
AUSTRALIA 95-80 SERBIA
Australia carried on in their quest to dethrone the USA with a convincing win against Serbia. Matthew Dellavedova and Patty Mills, the two Aussie guards, shone throughout as they scored a total of 49 points combined.
Although the Serbians consistently threatened to come close, Australia kept them at bay with the help of stalwart Andrew Bogut who finished the game with nine points, 12 rebounds, six assists and three blocks.
‘Delly’s’ double-double of 23 points and 13 assists proved to be too much for the Serbians who although had a stand-out display with Miroslav Raduljica scoring 25 points, they once again saw another quiet performance from talented center Nikola Jokic.
“The France game I thought he was pretty good, then I looked at the tape and he was amazing,” said assistant coach Luc Longley when asked about Dellavedova. “Tonight he seemed really good and I’m sure when I look at the tape he’ll be even better. He does so much that you don’t even pick up … in the flow of the game he executes the scout, defends the best guy, makes big shots. He’s just a grunt.”
Australia will now head into Wednesday’s match-up with the USA filled with confidence, as they know they’re in a prime position to advance into the knockout stages. Serbia on the other hand will look to bounce back against France in a game where both teams need a win after accumulating one loss thus far.
France 88-60 China
Following a surprising loss at the hands of Australia, France recovered well by demolishing China with a 28 point win. After a close first quarter, the French pulled away in the second, leading 42-23 going into half-time.
Nando de Colo was the highest scorer on France’s roster with 19 points, 11 of which came in the second quarter in the significant run that Les Bleus put together. Veteran Tony Parker proved he’s not yet over the hill with 14 points and 8 assists, while Nicolas Batum was back to his usual self, contributing on all fronts with seven points, ten rebounds, three assists and a steal.
China were short of answers on the offensive end, despite Yi Jianlian’s 19 points and a major reason behind this was the presence of Rudy Gobert. The 7’1” big man repeatedly swatted away Chinese efforts at the rim, finishing the game with 5 blocks.
A much needed win for the French is now on the board after the catastrophe versus Australia, which in turn will restore their hopes of a medal going into Wednesday’s game when they face Serbia.