U.S. Edges Spain, Serbia Smashes Australia in Olympic Semifinal

U.S. versus Spain

Spain hung close and fought hard from start to finish, keeping the U.S. within striking distance for the entirety of the contest. However, they weren’t able to produce enough offensive firepower to truly threaten the red, white, and blue.

Pau Gasol scored 23 points (9-19 FG, 2-5 3Pt, 3-3 FT) and added eight rebounds, two assists, one steal, and one block in just under 29 minutes of action. However, DeAndre Jordan dominated the game on the glass, and Gasol was mostly a non-factor on the defensive end.

Only one other player from Spain scored in double figures: Sergio Rodriguez, who tallied 11 points (5-11 FG, 1-6 3Pt) to go with five dimes and one steal. Ricky Rubio was ineffective, scoring zero points (0-4 FG, 0-2 FT) while recording one rebound, one assist, and three fouls in less than 14 minutes. Nikola Mirotic had seven points (2-7 FG, 1-4 3Pt, 2-3 FT) and five rebounds in 20 minutes. Alex Abrines did not play once again.

Had Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol been healthy, there may have been a different outcome. The U.S. struggled to score (41.8 percent shooting) even against a fairly weak defensive club missing its two top guys. Most of this could quickly be pinned on Carmelo Anthony and Jimmy Butler, who combined to go two-for-16 from the field. However, it’s fair to wonder whether the USA can glide to yet another gold medal if they can only muster up a similarly shaky showing against a Serbian squad that just opened up a serious can of Captain Insano whoop-ass on Australia.

Serbia versus Australia

Serbia set the tone with physicality and teamwork, disrupting Andrew Bogut by giving him a taste of his own brutalizing medicine. Bogut had been as dominant as any baller in these Olympics heading into this matchup, but he was stymied in the semifinals, finishing with four points, two blocks, one rebound, and four fouls in 23 minutes. Miroslav Raduljica matched Bogut’s aggression and actually ended up pushing Bogut around for much of the game. Raduljica will need to be equally effective in containing D.J. and the Boogieman if Serbia is going to shock the basketball world on Sunday.

Nikola Jokic totaled nine points (2-7 FG, 5-6 FT), 11 rebounds, three steals, two assists, and one block in 24 minutes, knocking down a Dirk-esque turnaround fade-away on the left baseline (albeit in garbage time). He’ll need to be every bit as good as he was last time Serbia faced the U.S. Milos Teodosic was terrific too, notching 22 points (9-14 FG, 2-4 3Pt, 2-3 FT), five assists, and two rebounds in 22 minutes. He was one of four Serbians to contribute 11 points or more, 10 of the 12 team members got on the scoreboard, and nine dished an assist. Serbia registered 23 assists, and they’ve shared the ball spectacularly during this entire tournament. A tough team defense and an offense that’s firing on all cylinders is the recipe for an upset against the United States. Serbia hasn’t dropped 30 dimes in an outing, but they haven’t handed out fewer than 22 in any of the seven contests during these Olympics.

For Team USA, the consistency has come on the defensive end. Though Bogut’s defense and phenomenal passing could’ve been the biggest roadblock for the favorites, Nikola Jokic’s versatility on offense could give Serbia a shooter’s chance. Jokic will have to avoid defensive lapses, as the U.S. will undoubtedly make Serbia pay for its mistakes. The U.S. earned a narrow three-point victory versus Serbia a little over over week ago, so there’s no chance that the underdogs will be underestimated or slept on heading into the gold medal game.

Arrow to top