Rio Hoops: Should Team USA Be Worried?
The group stages of the men's Rio Hoopfest is finally over.
Unsurprisingly, Team USA men advanced into the knockout rounds.
And why shouldn’t they be the favorites to run the table?
After all, the entire roster is loaded with NBA stars.
And Harrison Barnes.
The early results for the Red, White and Blue were fairly positive.
In their Olympic opener, Team USA blew out a China squad -- that would put together a whopping zero wins in the tournament -- by 57 points. Then, despite a slow start, they handled an NBA-deficient Venezuela team in their second match.
So far, so good. Dudes may be saddled with B team image, but they were cruising against world teams that were supposed to be showing how much the game has grown internationally.
Well, that evidence finally showed up against the Australians.
The Boomers were loaded with a rogue's gallery of the NBA's hard men who knew how to throw it around, and sometimes, that even involved the ball.
Ultimately, the Yanks were saved by Carmelo Anthony and his 31 points.
So, had the USA weathered the storm?
Serbia may not show the flash and dash that NBA fans seem to value, but those dudes are disciplined and fundamentally sound.
After getting smoked by double digits in the first quarter, the Serbs tightened the D and executed laser-accurate passes to pull to within 94-91 in the game's waning seconds,
In fact, they were unlucky not to tie at the buzzer. Bogdan Bogdanović missed what for him was a makeable trey after a defensive breakdown left him wide open at the arc.
Yet again, the USA survived.
The Americans still needed a W against France to secure Group A’s top spot.
But so much for cruise control, even with Tony Parker being held out of the game, nursing an injury. Les Bleus still gave Team USA a run for their money, but time ran out before France could complete the comeback.
Thus, Team USA is the only undefeated team remaining, but the process has yet to be as pretty as the results.
Scoring hasn't been the issue. On any given night, they could have Kevin Durant, Melo, and/or Klay Thompson go off for 30 points. The problem lies in the squad’s poor defensive showing.
For a squad that has Tom Thibideau on their coaching staff, the team has shown a confounding inability to switch on defense. Much has been made about the differences in officiating as -- unlike the star-favoring NBA refs -- FIBA's zebras don’t ignore obvious fouls.
Next up for the USA is Manu Ginobili and his Argentina squad in the quarterfinals.
- A win would guarantee the USA a chance to at least play for the bronze and at best play in the gold medal game.
- A loss would see the world’s best basketball nation not medal for the first time ever.
No pressure, dudes.
There are just 300million people counting on you back home.