France v Tunisia was the first game of the day with Parker and Batum once again leading the way for the French, but they didn’t get it that easy versus a Tunisia side seeking their first win. In saying that, it wasn’t quite as close as the final score may suggest. Tunisia closed the gap late when Hadidane went off for 15 fourth quarter points including a meaningless buzzer beating three.
Russia v Spain was the game most have been looking forward too, both sides undefeated and desperate for a win to avoid meeting the USA until Sunday’s final. From the first day of Olympic action I thought Russia had to be a favourite to pick up a medal, their ball movement and movement off the ball is the best of any team in the tournament. However, that movement was non-existent at the start of the game and they got out to a terrible start, going down 20-2 to a slick Spanish side. Russia looked in trouble but Fritzon had came to play, he went 6/6 from the field in the first half as he dragged Russia back into it whilst doing his best ‘Ray Allen on fire’ impression, curling off screens, spotting up and knocking down jumpers. Russia continued to chip away at the Spanish lead, switching randomly between man and zone defense was an effective tactic and they came all the way back to take their first lead of the game late in the third, 49-47. The fourth quarter swung back and forth but the Russians made the keys plays down the stretch to snatch this vital victory. and it now looks like it will be a Spain v USA semi final match-up
The game that everyone is talking about is the USA v Lithuania game where the Lithuanians had the audacity to actually run with the USA and even take a fourth quarter lead. The Lithuanians had a steady game plan of playing a pack man defense, clogging the lanes and allowing the USA to shoot from the outside, this has been touted as the only way to stand a chance versus Team USA and when they only hit two of their first 19 threes it looked like a pretty good strategy. Lithuania stayed close throughout but LeBron took over down the stretch and Lithuania had no answer as he closed out the game for the USA.
There were two ‘non-event’ games today, China v Brazil and Argentina v Nigeria. Both games had the favourite (Brazil and Argentina) take an early lead and did not look back, not much else to report here other than the fact that China are now officially out of the tournament.
GB v Australia might have been the game with most at stake, as not only were both teams battling for a quarter final berth but it was a hugely significant game for the GB basketball program. GB need to have something to show for the last four years of funding and development and this was their chance to qualify for the quarter finals stage and a huge match-up, from a PR point of view, with Team USA. GB started the brightest with some great ball movement and everyone hitting shots in rhythm. GB put up their highest first half point total of the tournament with 46 points and things were looking good as they held a 10 point advantage over the boomers, however, a disastrous second half was just around the corner. The Boomers were on fire in the second half and put up an incredible 70 second half points while holding GB to 29. This 40 point swing was led by Patti Mills and his 39 points including 5/7 from deep. This was a devastating second half collapse and it’s long term effect on the GB basketball program remains to be seen.
Plays of The Day
While it was a great day in the men’s competition the women brought most of the highlights on day four! But first check out this nightmare minute for Marc Gasol in crunch time vs Russia. First Ponkrashov throws the bounce pass through Gasol’s legs for Mozgov to throw it down and then on the very next play Mozgov meets Gasol at the summit for the monster block leaving the Spaniard on his back:
By now you will have heard about Liz Cambage being the first woman to dunk in an Olympic game and you can check out our post here for the full video! But for the play of the day of game four we have to combine two plays as Celine Dumerc went super clutch for France vs GB. Firstly she hits the leaning, pull up three to tie the game at the end of regulation:
Then at the end of the first period of overtime she repeated her heroics with the step back three at the same spot to win the game for France:
- So far we have seen a few variations of man defense and some 2-3 zone in the men’s competition, Tunisia tried a 1-3-1 defense for spells versus France – the first time I have seen a different look on defense from teams. Just pointing this out because I thought it would be more common place with over matched teams trying different looks and junk defenses to try and slow down some of the more powerful offenses.
- Some surprising coaching decisions in the Spain v Russia game. Ibaka only played 9 minutes during the first half and didn’t get off the bench in the second and Shved only played 7 minutes all game. Will be interesting to see how many minutes they play going forward, especially Shved who was one of the best players in the opening three days of play.
- Mike Carlson has got to work on his name calling – EVERY game he mixes up players, the worst example was in the USA game when he had Deron Williams making a great pass to “Johnson” – who the hell is Johnson!
- Slow day for Gifs and ok it’s not basketball but it’s still worth posting because how often are you going to see someone Crip Walking at Wimbledon? Way to go Serena:
- Why do guys like Klieza and Pocius look like all-stars for their country but could hardly get on the court in the NBA / NCAA Div 1?
- Warm up routine? Line Dancing? I don’t know what Kevin Love was at, do you?
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