Rio Hoops: It's Time to Take the Aussies Seriously
No one will ever doubt the resolve of the dudes from Down Under.
In any sport where contact is a distinct possibility, they play with an edge that probably carries over from their early days as an English penal colony.
So it's no surprise that Australia's basketball team features hard men who fear no opponent to the extent that they strive to be the intimidators.
As the Oz roster features six NBA players -- none of whom would be confused with shrinking violets -- the USA surely knew what was coming.
Of course, it's been a given since the Mike Krzyzewski era began in 2005, the USA would be Olympic world beaters as long as he coached them.
There was no reason to expect any differently in Rio.
Call them the B Squad all you want, there's no doubt this American squad -- just as Krzyzewski's teams in Beijing and London -- is on a road to gold.
There are few doubters, and most of those are wearing green and gold in Rio.
The self-prolaimed Boomers -- a local slang term for kangaroos -- have put on quite a show.
They dismantled a French national team boasting NBA names as Tony Parker, Boris Diaw, Rudy Gobert, and Nicolas Batum. It was in an 87-66 rout in which Bogut and Mills lead the Aussies with 18 and 21 points, respectively.
Until then, Les Bleus were tabbed to be the silver medal contender.
The Boomers were no slouches in their second game either, where they took on a Serbia team that has but a single NBA player in Nikola Jokić.
In a combined 49 point game for Patty Mills and Matthew Dellavedova, the Oz squad cruised.
These back-to-back wins set the stage for their showdown against the Americans.
That's right. Chick ruggers taking gold. This is one hard-ass continent.
In the American showdown, Australia lived up to their billing, dishing out hard fouls and harder intensity, which gave them a five point halftime lead until Mike Krzyzewski instilled whatever magic it is he's been doing for a career to right the ship.
And suffice it to say he gets more out of Carmelo Anthony than all that dude's other coaches combined.
Good thing, too. The USA's 98-88 triumph was closer than it looks.
Never to be known is what might've changed if Ben Simmons didn't stiff his countrymen.
Thon Maker and Danté Exum are out there, too, but this truly wasn't their time.
Attention will now be turned to what each team learned in this encounter. Should they meet in bracket play, will the USA's halftime adjustments in this one drive home a forceful point?
If the Aussies do get a second crack at them, perhaps the USA’s Olympic dominance in basketball isn’t as safe a bet as it used to be.