Olympic Basketball Recap – Day One

No great upsets during the first day of action with the favourites coming up with the win in each game. The first game of the day was Nigeria v Tunisia and it was painful to watch. Tunisia are the Wisconsin of Olympic basketball with a slow down style of game where they try and limit turnovers, run a patient half court offense and appear to have a severe phobia of anything that resembles a fast break.  Nigeria are the total opposite, imagine a team of JaVale McGee and JR Smith clones being coached by Birdie from Above the Rim and you would be close. They run virtually zero offense and just seem to go one on five whenever they can’t force a turnover or get out and run. Tunisia’s game plan of a low scoring game was working pretty well – they only put up 15 first half points – although it turns out that this is not a very good plan if your aim is to actually win the game. The Aminu brothers lead the way for Nigeria and they held off a second half comeback by Tunisia to win by the quite depressing scoreline of 60-56

Next up was the Aussie Boomers against Brazil and this was a much better match-up that involved two point guards going at it. Patty Mills had to force the issue for Austrilia and he was their only real outside threat but Huertas absolutely  ran the show for Brazil, dictating the tempo while scoring 15 points and dropping 10 assists. After a close first half Brazil opened up a double digit lead and looked to be cruising before a late comeback attempt by the boomers made it a one possession game. The Brazilians sank their late free throws and held on to win 75-71. (Luckily for them it wasn’t Splitter at the line…)

The game everyone was looking forward to was USA v France and there isn’t much to say really. As usual the underdog sticks with the USA early but then the Americans pull away for an easy win. USA destroyed France in transition outscoring them 25 to 6 in fast break points and the USA had the stat of the day as they assisted on 27 of their 31 field goals, that is an insanely high percentage of assisted field goals and if the USA share the ball like that can anyone come close? France couldn’t buy a three and you never felt like they really had a chance in this one.

Alexey Shved

Alexey Shved, Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love and AK47 – T-wolves will be fun to watch next season!

Spain v China was up next and this was one of the more entertaining games of the day with Yi going crazy in the first half and almost single handedly keeping China close, the NBA free agent looked like he was playing for a contract and finished up with a double double picking up 30 points and 12 rebounds on 13/19 shooting, but you always had the feeling that Spain just had too much quality and as the second half wore on they continued to increase their lead. Pau Gasol was the main threat finishing with 21 and 11 but it was a solid team performance by the Spanish side.

While watching GB v Russia there was only one thing going through my head – how fun is it going to be watching the Timberwolves next season?! The Timberwolves have picked up Russia’s Andrey Kirilenko and Aleksey Shved and these two destroyed the GB team. Shevd is great to watch and picked up 16 points and 13 assists whilst looking like he wasn’t even trying. AK47 had a monster game going for 35 points on a crazy 82% from the field and throwing in 3 blocks and 2 steals just for the craic. GB look like they will have to do more than just rely to Deng to get out of the groups and Russia have to be in the medal discussion.

The last game of day one was also the game I was most looking forward too, Lithuania vs Argentina. This could be the last chance for this ‘Golden Generation’ group of Argentina players who won the world championships in 2002 and followed it up with the 2004 Olympic gold medal defeating the USA in both finals. Lithuania have an amazing basketball pedigree having reached the semi-final of every Olympics that they have entered. The Argentinians were simply too good for Lithuania on the day, their ball movement was good, Delfino (Another player looking for a contract) was on fire from three, Scola looked like a world beater and Manu was Manu. B

Play of the Day

A lot of contenders here, Pau Gasol’s baseline dunk, Kirilenko’s amazing one handed tip assist and Salah Mejri made up for a disappointing offensive game with a thunderous dunk. As much as it pains me the play of the day has to go to LeBron James, how many players can throw a 50 foot, two handed bounce pass through two defenders? Not many! Durant does well to catch and finish the play – check out the video below!


I couldn’t get video of this online due to the Olympics crack down on Youtube but click here to check out the highlights of Brazil v Australia and skip to 8 minutes remaining in the third quarter. I want Paul Bullock to then come back on here and tell us that make up calls do not exist! Crazy sequence of events!


Rachael Vanderwal is the closest thing we have to an Irish person being represented in the Basketball at the Olympics so we are keeping a close eye on her progress at TCC. Rachael had played limited minutes in GB’s warm up games but after Steph Collins went down injured after seven seconds of their game Rachael was always going to be playing increased minutes and she made the most of her opportunity. She was GB’s most efficient player, joint top scorer with 11 points with an impressive 60% from the field. Hopefully this performance will mean increased minutes going forward.


  • Love how the Russian coaches just rock the T-Shirt and jeans look, sure isn’t in only the Olympics!
  • Hope to see more from Jonas Valanciunas going forward, never really got going vs Argentina.
  • Every coach need an etch-a-sketch!
  • So many empty seats is sickening!

I want one, I want one now.

Michelle Obama hugging entire USA basketball squad and their coaches!




Niall is the Co-Founder of the Courtside Collective and www.BasketballDirect.com . He was one of the founding members of North Star in 2002. He has coached at a variety of levels from kids to senior men's teams. He is currently coach of the LYIT National League team and women's college team.

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