August 10, 2016, 8:49 pm
The game of the day was undoubtedly the matchup between undefeated Australia and powerhouse Team USA. Australia controlled much of the game but a fabulous effort from Carmelo Anthony was too much to handle in the end. Melo cemented his status as one of the best Olympic basketball performers in history and surpassed LeBron James in all-time scoring today in a tremendous showing for the four-time Olympian.
After a slow start against Venezuela, the Americans got a very real scare from a tenacious Australian squad. There’ll be easier games ahead but Team USA will surely file away what they saw out of the Boomers tonight. It felt a lot like an NBA game with the big names and a sneaky tendency to lean on Iso-ball but was terrific fun throughout.
Day 5 actually gave us a trio of close games with two going down to the final possessions. Let’s check it out.
France 76 vs. Serbia 75
USA 98 vs. Australia 88
Venezuela vs. China
Spain 89 vs. China 68
USA 110 vs. Serbia 84
Canada 68 vs. Senegal 58
France 76 vs. Serbia 75
France was rolling to start, hitting their first eight shots and getting out to a 20-4 lead in the first five minutes. Serbia battled back thanks to big bench contributions from Miroslav Raduljica (#13) and Bojan Bogdanovic to trim the deficit to just four headed into halftime. The strong play carried over in the third as Serbia ended the quarter on a 14-4 run to take their first lead of the game. France wouldn’t regain the lead until Tony Parker hit a fadeaway jumper on a broken play with 31 seconds to go. Serbia had a chance but Bojan Bogdanovic pounded the air out of the ball and turned it over with a telegraphed pass with 8 seconds left. France foolishly attempted an alley-oop and the ball ended up back in Bogdanovic’s hands but his deep heave rimmed out and allowed France to escape.
France was carried early and late by Nando De Colo (#12). De Colo authored perhaps the finest individual performance of the Olympics so far with 22 points and numerous huge baskets down the stretch as well as three steals and a perfect 8-8 day from the charity stripe. He once again usurped lead guard duties from Parker, who finished with just 6 points in 21 minutes despite his late game heroics. Nicolas Batum had a great first half with 9 points but would only score 2 more the rest of the game. His late game defense on Bogdanovic was superb, as he didn’t allow Serbia’s sharpshooter any room to rise and fire. Joffrey Lauvergne chipped in with 12 points off the bench and looked good in a secondary scoring role but still has work to do as a defender. Boris Diaw was in triple double territory with 11-9-8 and ran the offense masterfully while he was on the floor. He grabbed a key offensive rebound late in the fourth and was a huge part of France’s second win of the tournament.
Serbia came out with a new look starting lineup perhaps in an attempt to take advantage of a weak French bench. Nikola Jokic started instead of leading scorer Miroslav Radujlica (#13). It’s a curious rotation decision, but maybe Serbia wanted Jokic’s range to pull Rudy Gobert out of the paint and free up Radujlica to take on weaker defenders. Jokic picked up four first half fouls but played extremely smart in the second half in grabbing some timely boards and making good passes to offset his lowly 2 point output. Radujlica was still a force, finishing a team-high +18 with 16 points on 7-9 from the floor. Milos Teodosic (#4) went for 10 points and 9 assists and helped spark a late 3rd quarter surge. Serbia did well to chip away at the lead but were done in by some poor final possessions. Bogdanovic froze in the closing seconds but did chip in three first half triples to get Serbia back in it. While they drop to 1-2 with the loss, Serbia still seems like a safe bet to advance to the medal round.
France Serbia Points De Colo 22
Batum / Diaw 11
Bogdanovic / Teodosic 10
Rebounds Diaw 9
Markovic / Radujlica / Stimac 3
Assists Diaw 8
Heurtel / Batum 3
Four with 1
Nedovic / Bogdanovic 2
- Radujlica ate Joffrey Lauvergne alive for a stretch of the fourth quarter and it’s a bit surprising that Rudy Gobert didn’t check back in earlier to wall off the paint.
- Teodosic can’t guard a lick; he’s a nice offensive player but gives everything back right away
- De Colo feasted on Teodosic late, attacking him at will and getting no resistance
- France turns the ball over way too much to be a gold medal threat
- Diaw’s passing is impeccable; he’s like a massive point guard for the French
- First half free throws; France 11-13, Serbia 1-2
- Parker was quiet but showed up in the clutch; sticking him in the corner doesn’t seem like the best way to use him but he was in the right place at the right time to nail a very tough shot in crunch time