Christ the Redeemer looked over his city of Rio de Janeiro as the 2016 Olympic Games came to a close. As the basketball Gods watched as Team USA took the last medal in Brazil. Bringing the American’s total of gold to 46.
It was another great games in South America. From Gladitorial legends breaking, record consecutive golds in their fields (or pools), like Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps. To new icons setting their name and legacy in stone and gold like gymnast great Simone Biles.
As a matter of fact women ran the world in this Olympia. And the womens national basketball team set the tone for the U.S. as they blew out Spain 101-72 to take gold for the sixth consecutive time since their home turn in the 1996 Atlanta games. Before that it was all just merely netball. Now nothing but net, Team USA whitewashed all their games like thir home uniforms. 65, 40, 26, 30, 43, 46, 19 and 29 in the medal game (that was in the gym bag before the sweats even came off) was the point differential margins as WNBA legends and Olympic greats like Sue Bird, Tamika Catchings and Diana Taurasi netted their third gold. Setting the podium for the likes of Brittney Griner, Maya Moore, Tina Charles, Sylvia Fowles and Breanna Stewart (matter of fact the whole roll call roster) to show the men they’re the real Dream Team.
Even more dominant than Simone, Usain or Mike in Olympic history, Angel McCoughtry is right when we wake up tomorrow these women better be on a damn Wheaties box.
After the U.S. beat the Silver Medal winning Spanish women and then the Spanish men took Bronce (Bronze) after a hero, power punch play by arguably the best international player of all-time (certainly the most underrated), Pau Gasol (holding up his injured, absent brother Marc’s jersey in beautiful, tribute celebration), it was down to the U.S. and Serbia for the last event of Rio’s games.
And they didn’t disappoint. Despite critics almost calling ‘Redeem’ on this twenty, sixteen team minus the King and the Chef. Sure the men didn’t win as handsomely as the women, but the rest of the world is just getting that much better. No matter the nationality…or gender, good basketball is good basketball. But the men still dominated and saved their best for last like Canadian Rick Fox’s first wife’s biggest hit. Serbia kept it close in the first quarter in what looked set to be a thriller…or even an upset as they lead. But then the second and the half that followed played out like the video game trend leads both U.S. squads have ran away with in these games over their still competitive opposition as it goes down to the pine of whose bench is fresher.
New Golden State Warrior Kevin Durant lead his band of brothers past Serbia with an incredible 2nd quarter of breakway rim rockers and NBA three’s as pure as bottled water as the Durantula bottle necked the opposition. With arms everywhere. On the floor, holding the flag, looking for gold in California and even touching on his past. Even Oklahoma City Thunder fans couldn’t deny it. You just had to love it. Many different U.S. players have lead the way for their country. From all-time Olympic contest and points leader and defacto veteran one Carmelo Anthony, to the all dunking, blocking and rebounding but no free throwing, centre of attention, DeAndre Jordan, who both wanted a medal round their neck just as much as a ring on their finger. But on this last night in Rio it was Kevin who held down a nation of millions down. He was the gasoline to this fire squad. And to think Jerry Colangelo broke his medal stand. His 30 points were the difference maker that lead the U.S. to a 30 point, 96-66 rout of the Serbs.
Which in the end made for 53 consecutive wins in international competition and 23 Olympic as Coach K hands his clean record in the games to Pop.
In his last Carnival the Duke coach even finally cracked a smile. Who knows he may have even broke out his best Manilow on the Copacobana for one last party on the beach.
As the sun goes down on Rio for the U.S. it’s nothing but Gold.
Next stop, Japan.
Here’s to Tokyo 2020.
Hot shooting Australia Boomers take down Canada
Canada wrapped-up a two-game exhibition series against 2019 FIBA World Cup group H foe and commonwealth neighbor with a 81-73 loss to the hot shooting Australia Boomers.
Canada started off slow as Australia made their defensive adjustments, after blowing out the Aussies 90-70 a day earlier by limiting the Canadians pick and roll opportunities and forcing Canada to shoot by going under screens. The Canadian’s trailed 13-6 early, but rallied with a 12-5 run to close the first-quarter with a 18-17 lead on a step-back jumper from Oshae Brissett.
Using a combination of U Sports basketball guards Canada opened up the second-quarter with back-to-back triples from Aaron Best and Kaza Kajami-Keane for a 26-19 lead with 7:27 to play. Australia responded with a 9-0 run to re-take the lead before Andrew Nembhard put a halt to the run with a easy lay-up. Khem Birch dropped in an inside basket to put Canada up 33-30 at half-time after a low-scoring 20 minutes.
The action picked-up in the third-quarter as both teams shot the ball extremely well, combining for a total of 56 points. Melvin Ejim scored Canada’s first five points and Khem Birch dominated the paint to give Team Canada a 48-38 advantage with 5:42 to play. Australia quickly found their stroke knocking down three-straight triples in less than minute – on their way to six in the quarter and a slim 60-59 lead after the third-quarter.
Canada’s offense dried-up in the fourth-quarter with just two points scored at the mid-way point as they settled for long jumpers and unnecessary three-pointers to quickly find themselves down 70-61 with 4:43 to play in the game.
Khem Birch sparked a late Canadian run, scoring 6 straight points to cut the lead down to 3 points at 70-67 with 3:30 to play and finished with a game-high 18 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals. Oshae Brissett added 14 points and 5 rebounds. Kaza Kajami-Keane rounded out Canada’s double-figure scores with 11 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists and Melvin Ejim contributed with 9 points and 7 rebounds.
The Boomers knocked down 12-31 (38%) from downtown, after shooting just 3-for-13 in the first-half. The Canadians were a miserable 7-of-25 (28%) from the outside and struggled with turnovers with 16. The Aussies grabbed 12 offensive boards and won the battle of the glass with a 43-40 edge.
“I thought it was very positive for us these two games, I thought we played extremely well, we competed, we played as a team, last night we obviously shot the ball a little bit better from three-point land but overall I thought it was a very positive two days for us.” – shared Canada’s Associate head coach Gordie Herbert after the game.
“We showed a lot of character these last two games, we had some guys not playing, but it was the same on their side. We played really tough, this is a great Australian team, they got a lot of great players and they are going to do very well. But I thought we showed promised and have the ability to compete no matter who we put on the floor.” – added Melvin Ejim.
Australia was led by Jock Landale with 13 points and 9 rebounds. Jonah Bolden added 12 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists and Chris Goulding with 10 points and 3 rebounds on 3-of -7 triples.
Canadian head coach Nick Nurse opted for a starting line-up that featured Andrew Nembhard, Philip Scrubb, Oshae Brissett, Kyle Wiltjer and Khem Birch while resting Kevin Pangos. Team Canada was also without the services of Cory Joseph and sharpshooter Brady Heslip. The Boomers played without Patty Mills and Andrew Bogut.
Both teams held back schemes, familiarized and acquainted themselves with each other and now have game footage in preparation for a crucial 2019 FIBA World Cup opening clash between the teams in less than two weeks in China.
Team Canada (2-2) will continue its FIBA World Cup preparations with a two-game series against New Zealand in Sydney, Australia on Tuesday August 20 and Wednesday August 21st.
Canada lays the boom defeats Australia 90-70
Canada opened-up a five-game pre-FIBA World cup exhibition schedule on foreign soil with an impressive 20-point, 90-70 win over Australia Boomers.
Playing with just one NBA player after inviting 17 to training camp, Canada dissected Australia’s poor pick and roll defense by controlling the tempo with outstanding guard play and timely three-point shooting.
Kevin Pangos 18 points, 6 assists , 4 steals, on 7-of-10 shooting, 4-of-6 triples paced five Canadian basketball players in double-figures.
“He just wants us to play aggressive and play with confidence and keep getting better, it’s a process, we don’t want to peak right now, we want to peak at the Worlds.” discussed Pangos post-game about head Coach Nick Nurse’s mentality coming into the physical affair against a team that is part of Canada’s group H at the World Cup.
19-year-old point-guard Andrew Nembhard finished with a double-double with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists playing a team-high 26 minutes.
“I’m just excited to be here, I feel like I’m supposed to be here and feel really comfortable on the court.” – opened-up Nembhard after the game.
Kaza Kajami-Keane came off the bench and hit a crucial three-pointer to end the third-quarter to restore orders for Canada and finished with 12 points. on 2-of-3 three-pointers. Kyle Wiltjer was crucial with 11 points and 6 rebounds including 3-of-6 from downtown.
Owen Klassen filling in for injured Olynyk was solid with 10 points and 4 rebounds. Philip Scrubb also chipped in with 10 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists.
Canada knocked down 13-of-32 (40%) triples and shot 36-of-79 (45%) from the the game.
Australia a team, loaded with NBA talent including Patty Mills, Joe Ingles (11 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists), Andrew Bogut (10 points, 13 rebounds, 2 assists), Matthew Dellavedova (0 points, 6 assists, 2 rebounds) were held to just 6-of-34 shooting from three-pointers and struggled with 15 turnovers — largely due to Team Canada’s active hands on defense.
Mills finished with a game-high 20 points knocking down 4 of Australia’s 6 three-pointers on just 4-of-13 outside the arc.
Nick Nurse opted for a starting line-up that featured Philip Scrubb, Kevin Pangos, Oshae Brissett (3 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists), Kyle Wiltjer and Khem Birch (6 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists). Both Brady Heslip and Melvin Ejim sat out this one out and will likely suit-up for the next game.
Canada improves to 2-1 in their 7-game pre-Fiba schedule and will take on the Aussies once again tomorrow as both teams get ready for the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China.
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