The US Basketball men’s national team is back in the Gold Medal Game for the third consecutive Olympics. They defeated Spain 82-76. Pau Gasol wasn’t 100 percent healthy for this game, but he still scored 23 points for the Spanish. Klay Thompson led the Americans with 22 points. One of the differences for Team USA was DeAndre Jordan, who grabbed 16 rebound and was a dominant force on the defensive end. Without him, there’s a good chance America could have lost.
In the other semifinal game, Serbia blew out Australia 87-61, which not too many people expected. The Serbians’ defense was nothing short of spectacular, as they held the Boomers to five (YES FIVE!!!) points in the first quarter, and just 14 at halftime. On offense, Milos Teodosic led the way with 22 points. Four of the five starters for Serbia also scored in double figures. For the Boomers, Patty Mills and Brock Motum scored 13 points each.
Bronze Medal Match: Australia vs. Spain, 10:30 a.m. ET
Spain will be competing for its fourth medal overall, but it would be their first Bronze Medal if they win today. Australia is going for its first medal in Olympic play. This could go either way, but Spain is still the favorite to win and extend their medal streak to three.
Gold Medal Match, United States vs. Serbia, 2:45 p.m. ET
The Americans were lucky to squeak by the Serbs 94-91 on August 12. Nikola Jokic scored 25 points off the bench for them and would have been a national hero if they manage to pull the victory.
The Serbians will pose a very formidable opponent against the Americans with off the ball movement and won’t resort to iso-ball. Team USA is more likely to resort to if they get into a rut, since Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving are all able to play that type of game.
I think the Americans will win this one a bit more comfortably than the group game, but it’s far from a given that they have this in the bag.
In terms of the medal count, the Americans are going for their third consecutive Gold Medal and 14th overall. They also are going for their 9th consecutive medal overall and have won a medal in every Summer Olympics that they participated in. It should be noted that the US did not play in 1980 because they boycotted the games held in Moscow, Soviet Union.
The Serbians are going for their first medal since 1996. This will be the 7th medal overall that they can claim because it was once part of Yugoslavia. The Yugoslavians were a basketball world power in the 1980’s and 1990’s until the countries broke up.
Even with political uncertainty at the time, the Serbians had their most recent heyday in the 1990’s and early 2000’s which included a silver medal in the 1996 Olympics, and Gold Medals in the 1998 and 2002 World Cups which long-time NBA star Peja Stojakovic was part of. Now, they’re in a new Golden Age, and a Gold Medal is in their reach.