The United States overcame its bewilderment at a magnificent first half from Australia, who exposed the weaknesses of the American team for two quarters, to recover in the third in pursuit of the goal that brought him to Tokyo 2020: the final for the gold of the Olympic Games.
As Spain had done for very brief moments in the quarterfinal duel, Australia really unsettled the North American stars, drying up their triplet success in a start in which came to win by 13 points (31-44, min. 16), but the group led by Gregg Popovich rebuilt their figure before the break, and razed after the interval.
Once the Americans got together, there was no longer a match. Kevin Durant was once again the spirit of this team (23 points, 9 rebounds), Devin Booker his legs to run into the open field (20) and Jrue Holiday his hands to regain the defensive tone lost in the first half (11 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists).
Again, the Australian team stays on the shore. After overcoming Argentina in the quarterfinals (97-59), they sought an active defense and fast basketball, captained by Patty mills (15 points, 5 rebounds and 8 assists) and with the pungent presence of Dante Exum (14 points, 4 rebounds) but to no avail.
Gregg Popovich gestures. Patty Mills passes in front. They both shared the glory with Manu Ginobili at the San Antonio Spurs. Photo Aris MESSINIS / AFP
It is not enough to start well against the American team, you have to drag it to an equal end, as did France. The French team, or the sensation of the tournament, Luka Doncic’s Slovenia, will complete the final.
Australia started being intense in defense, causing five American losses in the first ten minutes, and not failing your options. A triple by Exum, a run by Mills and a mate by Nic Kay started his escape (10-18, min. 6).
The ‘Boomers’ they had managed to dry the mana of the American triples, who did not score none of his six attempts in the first room, as well as match 4 out of 6 that they had (67%) and provoke five losses Americans in ten minutes, enough baggage to win 24-18 at the end of the first quarter.
United States began to despair, because the Australian team defended and ran, with Exum and Matisse Thybulle as agitators, although the second was overstated with an unsportsmanlike foul that brought the Americans closer, still very far (41-30).
Mills took a very distant triple to make it 44-31 and jump all alarms Popovich’s, although shortly after the shots started to come in to the Americans: Booker opened the ban and was followed by Jayson Tatum. Durant and Holiday continued the effort to reduce ocean rent: 52-45 at halftime.
Keldon Johnson, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday, part of this 2021 version of the American “Dream Team”. Photo Aris MESSINIS / AFP
Holiday finished the work of the comeback as soon as the third set started, and began a new game. As against Spain, the US team adjusted its defense, Durant emerged as a leader scoring two and three before an overwhelmed Australia.
Kay and Joe Ingles They tried to revive a team that was outmatched, which was already allowing the Americans to run out into the open. Zach LaVine it hung just before the end of the third quarter, which ended with a 74-53 that sounded like a passport in the final.
From then on, the United States was comfortable, rebounded, controlled the game and hit three. Booker hit again to take the difference beyond 20 points (86-63, min. 34).
Mills continued to believe, but it was almost like searching for water in the desert. In fact, the point guard ended up on the bench when his coach already realized that the duel was done and the Americans were having fun, again with LaVine hanging with two hands in a ‘show’ in pure NBA style. The United States is already where it wanted, in the final, and its rival will be France or Slovenia.
Kevin Durant salutes at the end of the game. It is one triumph of Olympic gold. Photo Aris MESSINIS / AFP
– Data sheet:
97 – United States: Lillard (5), Booker (20), Holiday (11), Durant (23), Adebayo (3) -the starting five-, Grant, Green (2), Johnson, LaVine (9), McGee (4), Middleton ( 11) and Tatum (9).
78 – Australia:.Mills (15), Dellavedova, Landale (11), English (9), Kay (7) -initial quintet-, Exum (14), Goulding (8), Green, Thybulle (6), Sobey (5) and Reath (3).
Referees: Ademir Zurapovic (BIH), Michael Weiland (CAN) and Manuel Mazzoni (ITA). Eliminated by five personal fouls the American Draymond Green (min. 37).
Incidents: first semifinal of the men’s basketball tournament of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, played at the Saitama Super Arena, without spectators due to the sanitary measures against the coronavirus pandemic.