Team USA ready for giant-killer Australians
TWO-time defending champion United States and Australia both improved to 2-0 at the Rio Olympics with lopsided triumphs, setting up a showdown today between the confident Boomers and powerhouse Americans.
Paul George scored 20 points and Jimmy Butler added 17 to lead the US collection of NBA stars over Venezuela 113-69 on August 8, while Patty Mills netted 26 points and Matthew Dellavedova contributed 23 with 13 assists in the Aussies’ 95-80 win over Serbia.
Australia will have the chance to snap an 0-14 all-time run against the US squad that ousted them in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic quarterfinals in a fight for the Group A lead.
“We know Australia is going to be a tough one for us, just based on how physical they are, so we’ll be ready for that,” said US star Carmelo Anthony.
Mills showed no sign of awe at the all-NBA US squad, telling Brisbane’s Courier-Mail newspaper last month, “They can be beaten.”
“With the group we have, we believe that we can beat them,” Mills said. “To be able to achieve greatness we need to be able to beat greatness, and that’s what we see with the USA team ... We’re going to give it a red-hot crack, that’s for sure.”
The US might be seeing red over that.
“If they are going to beat us, they are going to have to work for it,” George said.
“It’s going to be a grind-out game and I’m looking forward to it,” said former NBA Most Valuable Player Kevin Durant.
The Aussies boast four players who have won NBA titles – Dellavedova with Cleveland this season, Andrew Bogut with Golden State last year, and Mills and Aron Baynes on the San Antonio Spurs in 2014.
“We believe we can do some special things in this tournament,” said the Utah Jazz’s Joe Ingles.
US coach Mike Krzyzewski was impressed with what he has seen from the Aussies so far in Brazil as well.
“They have been great,” he said. “They haven’t turned the ball over. Baynes has been terrific for them in the low post. You have two of the best passers in the tournament in Dellavedova and Bogut. It’ll be a different type of team to play against and they’ll start five NBA players.
“We know that they feel like they can beat us and we understand that. I think it will be a really good game.”
George’s highlight reel-worthy slam dunk with 2:50 remaining in the fourth quarter brought the loudest US cheers in the August 7 victory over Venezuela.
Durant added 16 points and five assists while Anthony and DeAndre Jordan each scored 14. Jordan added nine rebounds and Kyle Lowry had nine assists for the USA.
Venezuela, with no NBA players, was level with the US NBA line-up at 18-18 after the first quarter.
But the US team outscored Venezuela 30-8 in the second quarter for a 48-26 half-time edge, Anthony scoring 10 to overshadow Venezuela in the period on his own.
In the other August 7 game, Nando de Colo scored 19 points as France (11) dropped China to 0-2 with a 88-60 win. –
USA forward Carmelo Anthony scores against Venezuela during a group A basketball game on August 8. USA won, 113-69, and get set to take on Australia today.