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Team USA hand Boomers an Olympics basketball lesson: See how the semi-final unfolded

(Photo by Getty Images)
Expert
5th August, 2021
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The Australian Boomers have won every game so far at the Tokyo Olympics but now they face their biggest test in the semi-final against Team USA from 2:15pm AEST.

Now that the quarterfinals are over, where three games were blowouts, we’re down to the final four countries that still carry the hopes of winning a gold medal at Tokyo.

Team USA raced away from Spain by 14 in a strong second-half performance. Australia annihilated Argentina by 38. Slovenia smashed Germany by 24. And France were too strong for Italy, getting over the line by nine.

Here’s a quick look at where things stand with the Boomers-USA semifinal.

How they got there — Australia

Australia went a flawless 3-0 through the group stages with wins against Nigeria, Italy, Germany. But while they lost big man Aron Baynes with a neck injury after the Italy game, they’ve played two games without him and showed they can thrive. Just look at the Argentina 97-59 win. Momentum is with them. And their defence has been a highlight of those wins giving up 67, 83, 76 and 59 in four games.

How they got there — Team USA

Team USA lost their Olympic opener but have recovered with three straight wins against Iran, Czech Republic, and Spain — forget the first two, the Spain win in a knockout game was a big statement. Kevin Durant and Dame Lillard have shown flashes of brilliance, as too, Jrue Holiday, Zach LaVine and Bam Adebayo.

Australia — key to victory

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Confidence and team chemistry is high. Perhaps an all-time high. There’s a belief they can beat anyone. Patty Mills has been the pillar, the man in the middle that cracks the whip when the team needs to get moving. He’s been bringing his teammates into games. And he’s been hitting the tough threes, driving and taking pull up shots when he senses the game needs to be more on Australia’s terms. Australia hasn’t won a medal at the Olympics yet. So the pressure will be there. But if they can stay in the zone, they can win it.

Team USA key to victory

When you coach a team like Team USA, the biggest worry is complacency. That is probably their biggest weakness. Gregg Popvich’s roster is jam-packed with elite producers in every aspect of the game. With a litany of game-winners at their beck-and-call, their biggest fear will be to underestimate the Boomers. As individuals they are well drilled, organized, and have depth. So much depth. So much variety. Their biggest challenge is being able to weld all of that talent together. Bookies have them starting favourite for a reason.

Semifinal X-factor — Matisse Thybulle

This is Matisse Thybulle’s first Olympics and his defensive work has been exceptional. Team USA players would have come across his craft through his first season in the NBA. But he’s gone to another level with the Boomers — more buy in, a greater role, and he’s embraced the team-first mentality. Can’t wait to see what he can do on Kevin Durant, or a player like Jayson Tatum. However the game plays out, Thybulle will make himself seen and heard.

Prediction — Australia 90 def USA 85

The Boomers can give Team USA more than just a scare if they start strong, disrupt them and slow the play down.

But if Team USA gets a hot start and forces a quick pace, it will set the tone for the rest of the game that the Boomers might not be able to recover from. Team USA has enough firepower – in fact they have all the firepower – to dismantle any team in the world, but upsets do happen. And if you have faith in the Boomers fairytale, achieving their first Olympic medal, why can’t it be a gold medal?

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Game information

Tip off: 2:15pm (AEST)
Venue: Saitama Super Arena, Tokyo
TV: Channel Seven
Online: 7plus

Squads

Boomers
Patty Mills (c), Matthew Dellavedova, Dante Exum, Chris Goulding, Josh Green, Nic Kay, Jock Landale, Joe Ingles, Duop Reath, Nathan Sobey, Matisse Thybulle

Team USA
Keldon Johnson, Zach Lavine, Damian Lillard, Kevin Durant (c), Khris Middleton, Jerami Grant, Jayson Tatum, Javale McGee, Jrue Holiday, Bam Adebayo, Draymond Green, Kevin Booker

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