Tokyo Olympics: Basketball - Team USA through to the finals in a tale of two halves!
The Americans suffered a brief scare in the first half only to rally in the second half to convincingly beat Australia.
When the Semi final matchups were made, fans were salivating at the prospect of seeing the top two teams at the Olympics go head to head. Oh man! were we in for a treat as both teams put it all on the line in two mind-blowing quarters of mesmerizing basketball.
The Australians started on the right foot, with intense zone defense, causing turnovers which they then took advantage off. Patty Mills and Joe Ingles, two veteran minds with high IQ, ran the offense to perfection, controlling the tempo of the game leading to the Team USA struggling to find a rhythm. Joe Ingles especially seemed to be in fine form as he pulled up from the parking lot ( a colloquial basketball term to signify that he hit deep threes) and drove to the lane at will, causing the tidy American defense to collapse. This move led to open shots for shooters like Chris Goulding, who knocked down their jump shots.
Patty Mills especially seemed to be in fine form as he knocked down improbable shots from tough angles, which left the Americans speechless without a reply. Kevin Durant single-handedly seemed to be willing his team forward as he answered back with clutch buckets. The Boomers dominated the half to a point they led by 15, till Team USA, with the help of Jrue Holiday, Devin Booker, and Kevin Durant, started finding a rhythm. Australia looked on course to cause a major upset, heading into the tunnel during halftime.
Team USA came out a different team during the second half as they played with more aggression and intent. Kevin Durant came out firing on all cylinders, along with Devin Booker, as they cooked the Boomers' defense which had no answer for their offensive prowess. Team USA shot 0-10 from 3 in the first half but started finding their stroke in the second half as they came out shooting lights out. Their defensive intensity also picked up, making it hard for any other Australian not named Patty Mills to create a shot. Matisse Thybulle, who was key for the Boomers in their defensive setup, slowed down, and their zone defense seemed to be not working anymore. Jrue Holiday stepped up big time and drove into the lane at will, either finishing himself or kicking it out to open shooters.
In the end, the offensive firepower of Team USA seemed a bit too much for Australia as they gave it their all, giving us one of the most memorable matches in Olympic history. The Boomers will be back soon as their team gets better as the years progress. Ben Simmons, along with a few young stars, will be up for contention during Paris 2024. Unfortunately, this might be the last time that we see either Patty Mills or Joe Ingles wear a Boomers jersey, as it seems highly unlikely that the veterans would be back for Paris. The Boomers are up for the bronze medal match next, either against Slovenia or France.
Team USA has a few chinks in their armour that needs fixing, and a couple of days off would give them the ideal opportunity to regroup and rejuvenate. They get set to face either Rudy Gobert and France or Luka Doncic and Slovenia in the finals. Both teams cause their fair share of problems for the Americans, making it essential for them to be in peak mental and physical condition.