WEDNESDAY’S QUARTERFINALS – Here’s the NBC online link.
1-USA (5-0) vs. 4-Aus. (3-2) – 7AM Final USA 116, Aus 85
2-Spain (4-1) vs. 3-Croatia (3-2) Final Spain 72, Croatia 59
3-Greece (3-2) vs. 2-Argentina (4-1) Final Argentina 80, Greece 78
4-China (2-3) vs. 1-Lithuania (4-1) Final Lith. 94, China 68
Spain, Lithuania, Team USA and Argentina — yes, the usual suspects of basketball international — have advanced to the semi-finals where they’ll decide who gets what hardware.
Go here for NBC video replays, boxscores, play by plays and recaps. Or stay right here and read all about it … Why is NBC showing beach volleyball right now?
LIVE GAME NOTES: AUSTRALIA v. USA
1ST QUARTER… Bogut is whistled for 2 quick fouls in the first five minutes and sent to the bench. Dwight Howard off to a great start – 3/4 from the field, led scoring early with 8 pts. Just like a Bucks-Magic game. USA leads 24-21 at end of first quarter. … Bogut’s backup, veteran Chris Antsey, is making shots, so not having Bogut out there is only hurting on the defensive end.
2ND QUARTER… Bogut back in playing w/ two fouls. He gets two hoops in the post. Patty Mills, the quicksilver guard has 8 pts and is playing good minutes – he’s played 10 already. Australia is hanging in there, down 38-31 … Carmelo Anthony is shooting well, leads all scorers with 12; Lebron has 10. If Lebron and Carmelo continue to shoot well, Australia has little hope. It’s 50-43 … No team has hung in there this well vs. Team Redeem. Brad Newley – Houston Rockets 2nd round pick in 2007 – has 8 and is starting to hit for the Boomers (the Aussies are the only country that gives their national teams official names; the women’s team is the Opals).
55-43 at half. Kobe and Lebron are shooting a lot — 20 shots between them, 20 pts. This is the first time we’ve seen this from team USA, the stars exerting control and dominating the ball. D-Wade isn’t getting shots, and the Aussies are taking care of the ball. Carmelo and Lebron lead all scorers w/ 12 at half.
HALFTIME NOTES: Bogut hasn’t picked up his 3rd foul, so he’ll get a reboot in the 3rd quarter. I suppose the US will jam it in to Howard to pick up the 3rd foul and run Bogut back to the bench. Aussie captain Matt Nielson is in foul trouble, too, as usual, with three. But David Anderson, one of the best centers left in Europe, only has one. Time for Anderson to step up and out and shoot some threes. C.J. Bruton, the shooter, has only taken two shots – Kidd and CP3 have been all over him. Newley, Bruton and Mills lead Aus. in minutes played, so YES, Aussie coach Goorjian has played his best players. Bogut of course had the foul trouble, cutting his minutes down to eight.
Carmelo is 4/6 from the floor and 1/2 from downtown. Team USA is 4/14 from downtown. Australia could be in this if the poor US shooting keeps up. Australia only has 8 turnovers – the best job any team has done in the Olympics taking care of the ball vs. Team Redeem’s relentless D. Michael Redd has not left the bench.
3rd QUARTER – Will Team USA go into Howard? NO. KOBE goes on a rampage, scoring 8 points in an 11-0 USA run, extending the 12-point halftime lead to 23 at 66-43, orcing an Aussie timeout. Carmelo drained a three for the other points. Carmelo and Kobe 11 – Australia 0. Well, at least the Aussies lasted a half …. Bogut has his 3rd foul, and has been sent to the bench, even though this game is on the verge of being over unless his team makes a run …
So it’s now 80-52 and Bogut has been on the bench most of the 3rd quarter with the 3rd foul. Chris Antsey, 33-years-old, playing in his last Olympics, has been given most of the center minutes for Australia. I suppose this is a send-off of sorts for Antsey but how did it help the Aussies in the 3rd quarter? Would it have made a difference had Bogut fouled out helping to hold the USA lead within reason? In the very least Bogut could have rebounded and helped on D — Team Redeem is killing the Boomers on the boards.
This refusal of Aussie coach Goorjian to play his best players keeps rearing its head. He throws in the towel quickly and tosses games to his scrub vets. (This was the pattern vs. Coratia). I thought perhaps he had learned his lesson against Russia when the Boomers won playing Bogut, Bruton, Mills and Newley heavy minutes. Today, Goorjian jumped at the opportunity to yank Bogut and play Antsey, exactly what Team USA wanted him to do. Kobe took it right at Bogut after halftime, trying to draw to draw that 3rd whistle and get the only bonafide NBA center left in the Olympics (other than Howard) out of the game. Bogut’s own coach was a willing accomplice, and took Bogut out of the tournament.
So Bogut has played 11 minutes, taken five shots, scored 4 pts, grabbed 2 rebs and earned 3 fouls. It’s the 4th quarter now. Strange to leave Bogut sitting. Ankles again? The rout is on … What’s the score here? … 106-78.
Kobe was Kobe coming out the locker room at halftime, the first time in these Olympics that he’s taken over a game. Today was also the first time Team USA was challenged into halftime. Apparently that didn’t sit too well with Kobe. He had 17 points after the half, finishing with a game-high 25.
… Team Redeem outrebounded the Aussies 57-28 … One would think that Bogut might have been able to help on the glass in the second half. It’s difficult to rebound a basketball when you’re on the bench.
First the Spain blowout Saturday, now this one … The Redeem Team is probably unbeatable. The international teams do not have players who can guard Kobe or Lebron. Bruce Bowen and Paul Pierce are not in Beijing about to suit up for Argentina, Lithuania or Spain. If Kobe or Lebron isn’t lighting up the scoreboard, Carmelo Anthony or D-Wade is … Sometimes Team USA gets three of those four guys going at once. On this day, D-Wade didn’t do much scoring but hauled down 8 rebounds. Carmelo had 15 pts., Lebron 16 pts, 9 rebs … Howard had those 8 points early, 7 rebs …
*Michael Redd did play 8.5 mins in garbage time. He scored 5 points on 2/3 shooting (1/2 on 3-pointers). Redd is now 10/31 from the floor in six Olympic games, 5/18 shooting from 3-point land. That 5th three tied Redd with Bogut in the Milwaukee Bucks Olympic 3-point shootout. Bogut was 5/7 in group play, so … technically Bogut is still in the lead.
*Jason Kidd shot again – twice this game, and made them both.
Team Redeem moves on to play Argentina and the Spurs’ Manu Ginobili, the only All-NBA player left in this tournament who is not on Team USA. (Yao Ming and Dirk Nowitzki were the other two). The Ginobili-led squad may be the only team that has any hope of giving Team Kobe and Lebron a game. Unlike Australia, where the best players often sit, Argentina goes full throttle with Ginobili and the Houston Rockets’ active big man, Luis Scola, playing 32-plus minutes a game. Today against Greece, Ginobili and Scola played a combined 70 minutes.
Argentina 80, Greece 78 Carlos Delfino shot Argentina to a 6-point lead late in the 3rd quarter with two three-pointers and the defending Olympic champs held off Greece the rest of the way. Delfino, a bench player in Detroit and Toronto the last four years, finished with 23 and Ginobili led with 24 points. Scola contributed 11 pts, 8 rebs in a workmanlike 37 mins, and Chicago Bulls forward Andres Nocioni added 12. Together, those four scored 70 of Argentina’s 80 points. The 5th member of “the Fab Five,” Fabricio Oberto, the Spurs’ oft-starting power forward, did not score. Shockingly, Argentina shot only five free throws, to 18 by Greece. Usually, Ginobili in particular is adept at getting to the line, especially in FIBA games. Antonios Fotsis led Greece with 17 pts.
Spain 72, Croatia 59 Croatia is an up and coming team (Green Bandwagon has a good take) but the hot shooting that torched Australia in Game 1 has gone cold. The sons of Toni Kukoc shot 12-16 from 3-point land vs. Australia but only 5-19 this morning. LA Laker Pau Gasol of Spain led all scorers with 20. Jose Calderon (the Raptors point guard who made T.J. Ford expendable) played only 18 minutes, but shot 4/5 including two threes. Reyes, the forward, who led Spain in scoring during the debacle vs. Team USA Saturday – he had 13. Reyes seems like a good, tough player who can make shots.
Lithuania 94, China 68 China hung in there for much of the first half (it was 31-27 in the 2nd quarter) but Lithuania, led by Sarunas Jasikevicius, gradually pulled away after that. The Chinese starting five – Yao, Yi, Sun, Zhu and Liu, the point guard – doesn’t get much rest. Jasikevicius, who hit 7 threes against Allen Iverson, Lebron James, et al, in Athens 2004, scored 23 to lead this one — on eight shots! He was 5/6 on three-pointers. Jasikevicius played in the NBA (Pacers and Warriors) until 2007 and is ballin’ in Greece these days. Sign him up, John Hammond, Jasikevicius is a real shooting guard. He plays some D too, so I hear. ….Yao Ming tried to keep China in it but got no help. Yi Jianlian of New Joizey started well, with 6 in the first quarter, but got nothing afterward, until he was benched in the 3rd quarter. He finished with 11, padding it in garbage time. Sun Yue, just signed with the Lakers was equally disappointing. The Chinese players, Yao excepted, need to learn to step it up — if they don’t figure it out, or if they can’t — neither Yi or Sun will last long in the NBA.
Lithuania meets Spain in the semi-finals Friday.
Basketball Australia’s preview – REDEEM THIS. The Boomers are ready, the Aussie’s say.
ESPN’s Chris Sheridan thinks the Boomers have a prayer. But since you’re here, you should read my preview:
TEAM USA vs. AUSTRALIA: Of course it’s not really Buck vs. Buck, guard Michael Redd vs. center Andrew Bogut. Redd, the USA shooting “specialist” who has shot poorly through five Olympic games, has seen his role diminished. Bogut, Australia’s best player and the best center in the Olympic tournament not named Dwight Howard or Yao Ming, is the focal point of his team’s half court offense and the anchor of the Boomer’s defense.
Believe it or not, BOGUT has sunk more three-pointers than Redd so far in the Olympics. Bogut’s 5/7 from behind the arc; Redd is 4/16. Unfortunately, Team USA’s “designated shooter” is 8/28 (28.4%) from the floor, averaging 4.2 ppg in 11.5 mins per game. He has not adjusted well to his spot-shooting role, or to coming off the bench, period. The silver lining for Redd is that the team hasn’t needed his shooting.
Bogut is the Buck who’s been on a roll and so is his team, closing out group play with three straight wins. Bogut averaged 18.3 ppg in just under 21 mins per game in those wins. After two miserable games vs. Croatia and Argentina, he has dominated, overpowering Iran, Russia and Lithuania, playing with a fierce attitude that has carried the Boomers into the medal round. Bogut’s the key for Australia, though, to be honest the only the way Australia might win this game is if the Aussies bribe a rikshaw driver and Lebron James and Dwyane Wade get conveniently lost on the way to the arena. And even then, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony and Redd would have to shoot horribly — which they’ve all done in these Olympics.
But the Aussies do have the ability to make this game interesting, and here’s the how and why:
The Boomers are a physical, aggressive team that can play 40 minutes of D and stay with the Team Redeem. USA players have attested to this.
But Aussie Coach Brian Goorjian has to play the best Australia players. It’s seems stupid to have to make such a basic observation in the Olympics, but Goorjian’s rotations were terrible in the two opening losses.
Taking care of the ball vs. Team Redeem’s high-pressure D is huge. (Spain turned the ball over 28 times vs. Team USA on Saturday.) Australia has two excellent capable guards, C.J. Bruton and Patty Mills.
Australia has to shoot well. Bogut has to get some offense going inside vs. Dwight Howard (something he’s had a difficult time doing when the Bucks have played the Magic – the gamelogs on basketball-reference.com bear this out); Bruton, the shooter, needs a good game. Six-foot-11 David Anderson led the Euroleague in three point shooting % for CSKV Moscow last season. Anderson’s a guy to watch coming off the bench.
KEY # 1 – Team Redeem and the Aussies have played once in China, Aug. 5 in a tuneup game in Shanghai. To hear Team USA’s captain, Jason Kidd, and reserve forward Tayshaun Prince tell it, the Australians gave Team Redeem perhaps their toughest test in China. The USA won 87-76, the only time a team has been able to stay with Team Redeem for 40 minutes. That’s a big key, said Pistons all-star Prince the weekend the games began:
“I think out of all those teams that we played Australia was the team that had the complete package. They had shooters, they had agressive drivers, big guys who can shoot outside, great ball-handlers who can shoot and drive. All the other teams we played they had shooters but not drivers or drivers but not shooters. With Australia, everybody was able to do something and I think that’s why they were able to stick around throughout the game.”
Kidd echoed Prince’s assessment of the Aussies:
“They were very physical and they played well without Bogut. The big thing about them is that they are physical and they play hard for 40 minutes and they are well coached so they will make a lot of noise (in the tournament).”
KEY #2 – I watched the entire Aug. 5 game on Youtube last night (unfortunately, ESPN has put the kibosh on those videos) and came away generally impressed with the versatility of Australia’s big men, Matt Nielson, David Anderson and Chris Antsey; the play of smart, talented guards C.J. Bruton and Patty Mills; and 6′ 6″ small forward-guard Brad Newley, a 2nd round pick of the Houston Rockets in the 2007 draft. (Newley and Mills should have draftexpress profiles.)
BUT (and as you can see, it’s a BIG BUT) Andrew Bogut, nursing a rolled ankle, did not play; and Team USA played a sloppy, unenergetic game, nothing at all like the the end-of-the-world intensity that Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant and Chris Bosh have laid on their Olympic opponents.
ALSO (and this is big, too), a few Aussie players don’t belong the court with Team Redeem, or Croatia for that matter. David Barlow, who starts at guard then usually goes to the bench as Mills takes over; reserve guard Mark Worthington; and veteran Glen Saville. In the Aussie’s Olympic-saving win vs. Russia, all three of those players along with veteran Antsey — Bogut’s backup — saw limited action. Bogut, Bruton, Mills and Newley played a combined 115 minutes against Russia. It’s no coincidence that the Aussies won playing their best players big minutes. The three big men, Nielson, Anderson and Antsey split 45-50 mins, leaving about 35-40 minutes for the scrubs. Aussie coach Goorgian needs to tighten the rotation up even more against Team Redeem.
KEY # 3 – The Australia guards, in particular, impressed Team USA and guard Dwyane Wade, who’s been one of the players of the Olympics, along with Spurs All-NBA guard Manu Ginobili, leader of defending gold medalists Argentina, and Lebron James:
“[Patty Mills] did great — both of their point guards were good. One was shooting [Bruton] and one was extremely fast [Mills].”
Tayshaun Prince declared the 20-year-old Mills an NBA prospect:
“He is so fast, he is able to stop and go and is very talented. When you’re that fast and can get to the basket you are going be a player (in the NBA).”
The veteran, C.J. Bruton, age 33, is the starting point guard. Bruton’s of American descent, his father having been an imported baller in the Australian leagues. Bruton played some community college ball in the U.S in the early-mid 1990’s but never played Division 1 because the NCAA yanked his eligibility, ruling that he had played professionally in Australia as a teenager. Patty Mills just turned 20 and is entering his sophomore year at St. Mary’s College (Calif.), which plays in the Western conference with the likes of Loyola Marymount and Gonzaga. Mills NBA stock is rising fast.
“If he continues to keep working hard he definitely has a future in the NBA,” Kidd concurred.
Key #4 – Australia shooting well starts with getting Bogut going early against Dwight Howard. Bruton is the key early, working inside out with Bogut. Accomplishing this, however, is no easy task. Bogut usually has difficulty getting shots off against All-NBA, All-Defensive center Howard. This game will be a short chapter, perhaps even a footnote, in what should be a long Howard vs. Bogut rivalry. Hopefully, it’ll be a good one … David Anderson is a great asset off the bench for Australia, and a deadly 3-point shooter. Here’s more, reposted from a few days ago:
Australia’s David Anderson
is is now a teammate of Bucks forward Ersan Ilyasova’s on AXA FC Barcelona. A roving big forward on Australia, Anderson has played center for CSKA Moscow since 2004, winning two Euroleague championships and leading the Euroleague in 3-point shooting % last season (54.2%). Hoopshype describes him as “one of the top big men left in Europe. Great talent and size.” FC Barcelona signed free agent Anderson to a three-year deal in June.
Anderson’s a guy Australia needs to find more playing time for. He splits time with Matt Nielson, the team captain, also a versatile 6′ 11″ player, adept at drawing fouls and getting to the line. A good shooting game by Anderson off the bench should prevent scoring droughts from Australia and could keep them hanging around until the 4th quarter.
Bottom line, however, is that almost everyone in an Australia uniform needs to have a decent shooting game for the Boomers to have a chance. If Bruton is off, it’s over. Team Redeem will miss shots. USA Basketball didn’t take enough shooters to China, and the one it did take as its “specialist” – Michael Redd – can’t find his shot and appears to have difficulty coming off the bench and playing off the ball. Take care of the ball and shoot well, and the Boomers of Australia may find themselves in this game. Shoot better and catch a break or two, and a miracle on the hardwood just might not be so farfetched. …
Footnote: Aren’t you glad all this crap wasn’t up all day yesterday? I still find it amazing that the coach again let Bogut sit and watch while the team floundered. Apparently, Australia has been a team that came to the 2008 Olympics very much in transition. For some players Beijing was a last hurrah; for others, namely Bogut, Newley and Mills, Beijing was their Olympics to step to the forefront. Unfortunately, and due to whatever circumstances and loyalties, this transition was poorly coached and managed.