Wednesday 21 February 2018 / 10:11 AM


The United States kept winning in the semi-finals, again upending Spain, who they are now 12-0 against in the Olympics. The US used strong showings from DeAndre Jordan and Klay Thompson to survive another deficit at intermission before prevailing 82-76.

Spain came out swinging, gaining early control from the play of Pau Gasol and some strong guard play. The US looked really frustrated and settled for looks for the first time against Spain. But the insertion of DeAndre Jordan at the center, as well as superb minutes from Paul George, put a clamp on the Spanish offense and the US slowly found its groove.

The Americans had some serious foul trouble, namely with Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins, both of whom sat significant chunks of minutes during a second quarter filled with foul calls and rusty play.

The US were strong in the third quarter, and tightened the grips in the fourth to close out a Spanish team that struggled on the boards against Jordan, who had 16 rebounds and 4 blocks. Pau Gasol was great on the offensive end, but could do nothing to stop Jordan on the glass.

The game was sealed with 1:51 to go in the fourth quarter, as the US managed to grab two offensive boards, before Kevin Durant buried a floater to push the lead up to double digits.

The US will advance to the gold medal game with the 82-76 win, and Spain will leave the Olympics without the silver medal for the first time since 2004. Spanish coaches have yet to confirm if Gasol will be active for the bronze medal match.

In the other semifinal game, the Australian national team fell flat in their chance to clinch their first ever Olympic medal. Serbia had other plans, and jumped on the Aussies from the opening whistle. Boomers stars Patty Mills (13 points), Andrew Bogut (four points) and Matthew Dellavedova (three points) all disappointed in the game, as Serbia’s smothering defense and quick pace eliminated the space offense from the Aussies in an 87-61 result.

The first half was awful, as the Boomers got out to one of the worst starts in Olympic semifinal history, scoring just 14 points at halftime to go with 6-for-29 shooting. The abysmal shooting effort was made worse by the lack of defense, as Serbia continually got open looks for the majority of the game.

Milos Teodosic led the way with 22 points for Serbia, while Nikola Jokic controlled the boards and kept the pace within Serbian control. Serbia’s defensive strategy and positioning on the Boomers was spectacular, continually driving Australia from their cuts and moving them off the line without allowing free throws or fouling. Andrew Bogut, normally the catalyst of the offense, was harassed and left ineffective at the wake of the pressure from Jokic and the other frontcourt players.

Australia still can medal for the first time, but now must topple Spain for the bronze in the playoff game. All is not lost for Australia, who should be favored to beat Spain, and have a chance to build on their unbelievable success in Rio. They’ll potentially add Ben Simmons, Dante Exum, and Thon Maker going forward to an already deep team.

While the future is certainly very bright for this Australian team, today’s game against Serbia will taste bitter for a while. That is, unless a medal falls into their future.

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