Pool play is finally over! We’ve moved on to the actual tournament portion of the olympics, which means that every game is win or go home for each team. Well, actually that’s not true. It is for the first game each team plays, but the semifinal round is win or be consigned to the bronze medal game. But really all you need to know is that you need three straight wins to take home the gold.
USA 126, Argentina 97
Argentina is considered one of the major threats to US dominance in this tournament. And they backed it up for most of this game. Just not in the third quarter, when, behind a Kevin Durant explosion (capped with a heat check three that may or may not have been launched from the European mainland), Team USA absolutely destroyed Argentina, outscoring them 42-17.
It was a somewhat frightening example of exactly how good Team USA can be when it gets locked in. Argentina, a very good FIBA team, got absolutely run off the floor. That’s not to say that Team USA can’t lose — Lithuania would like a word with you if you believe that — but you’re going to have to get supremely lucky and basically not suck at all for any period of time. Let’s just say I don’t see it happening.
Great Britain 90, China 58
Congratulations to Great Britain for snagging their first Olympic basketball win since 1948, also known as the last time the Brits hosted. Admittedly, it was against China, but still. A win’s a win.
On the bright side for Bulls fans, this means Luol Deng can stop killing himself for a little while. Of course, he says he doesn’t want to get surgery now, so…yeah.
Australia 82, Russia 80
That sound you just heard was me diving off the ‘Russia is a legit medal contender’ bandwagon. Not to say that they won’t medal, just that I’m going to need to see more from them against Lithuania, who, you may remember, just gave the US a run for their money. My suspicion is that Russia just didn’t have much to play for (they’d locked up the top spot in their pool already) and people — including yours truly — sleep on Australia. So they’ll be much better against Lithuania. Or so I hope.
Lithuania 76, Tunisia 63
Tunisia gave a surprisingly good account of itself in this tournament. They just didn’t have the sheer talent necessary to put together some wins. Meanwhile, as I’ve now said in three of the four sub-entries on the page, Lithuania is solid. Russia-Lithuania should be fascinating. Especially given the regional rivalry involved.
France 73, Nigeria 69
Once again, I assume this to be a product mostly of France not having much of anything to play for and Nigeria not being nearly as bad as their 83 point loss (that phrase looks even more ridiculous every time I type it) to Team USA might indicate. France-Spain is another fascinating, regional rivalry game coming up.
Brazil 88, Spain 82
Speaking of Spain, you could actually consider this loss a win for them. By losing, they slide over to the other side of the bracket and wouldn’t face Team USA until the gold medal game. Of course, they blew a double-digit fourth quarter lead along the way, so that wasn’t good, but still. On the other side, Brazil redeems itself a bit and looks more like the legitimate contender they were supposed to be.
Then again, they now get to face Team USA earlier than they would have otherwise. So…yeah.