Team USA Women’s basketball to face Australia in medal round

Following the 2020 Olympic women’s basketball preliminary round, FIBA conducted the draw to determine quarterfinal pairings for the Tokyo Olympic basketball medal round on Monday night in Saitama, Japan. The U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team (3-0) will take on Australia (1-2) to open medal round play on Wednesday, Aug. 4 (1:40 p.m. JST / 12:40 p.m. EDT).

“We’re in the quarterfinals playing a team like Australia, who we’re very familiar with,” said USA head coach Dawn Staley (South Carolina). “Australia will be a formidable opponent because we know each other so well, and we look forward to the challenge of getting out of the quarterfinals. We certainly have to execute on both sides of the ball and continue to get better to advance.”

After dropping its opener to Belgium (85-70) and a close contest to China (76-74), in order to advance Australia had to defeat Puerto Rico in its final pool play game by 25 points. After trailing 45-44 heading into the locker room, Australia stormed out in the second half for a 27-point, 96-69 victory to advance.

The other three quarterfinals games will feature China (3-0), which won Group C, against Group A second place finisher Serbia (1-2); Group A first place finisher Spain (3-0) will meet up against France (1-2), the third-place team out of Group B; while host Japan (2-1), which finished second in Group B, will compete against Group C second place finisher Belgium (2-1).

Winners of the USA versus Australia game will face the winner of the China versus Serbia contest in the first of two semifinal contests on Aug. 6 (1:40 p.m. JST / 12:40 p.m. EDT), while the winners of the other two quarterfinal games will square off in the second semifinal (8 p.m. JST / 7 a.m. EDT).

Semifinals winners advance to the Aug. 8 gold medal game (11:30 a.m. JST / Aug. 7 at 10:30 p.m. EDT), while the bronze medal game will be played on Aug. 7 (4 p.m. JST / 3 a.m. EDT).

Teams eliminated from the Olympic women’s basketball tournament are Nigeria (0-3) from Group B, South Korea (0-3) from Group A, Puerto Rico (0-3) from Group C and Canada (1-2), which finished in second place out of Group A.

The No. 1 team in the world and following its three preliminary games, the USA owns an all-time record of 69-3 in Olympic play and is riding a 52-game winning streak in Olympic competition, which began with the 1992 bronze medal game, includes a record six-straight gold medals and three victories in Tokyo.

Photo: Team USA

Australia’s Ingles on playing Team USA: ‘We walked into this game expecting to win’

Before these exhibition games, the USA Mens National Team was 54-2 in exhibition contests since 1992.

However, 2021 is a different world for Team USA.

Two nights after losing to Nigeria, the U.S. lost to Australia 91-83 at Michelob ULTRA Arena at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas on Monday night.

According to ESPN Stats & Info, it is the first time Team USA has lost back-to-back exhibition games since professionals started playing in 1992.

Coming into the contest, Australia was ranked third globally by FIBA, and if it was not clear before, it’s clear now that winning a gold medal in Tokyo won’t be easy.

Damian Lillard, who scored 22 points against Australia, sees first-hand how much the world has closed the gap.

“These (international) teams are experienced, and we are still working at becoming a team,” Lillard said. “We’re not just going to roll the ball out and beat these teams … these teams have a starting five of NBA players now.”

Again, the closing of the gap in competition was a point of emphasis for Popovich, who said that believing the U.S. has continually beaten every team by a large margin over the last decade is an error in thinking.

“We have had close games against four or five international teams, and the good teams don’t get blown out,” Popovich said.

Australia was led by Spurs guard Patty Mills, who finished with 22 points and Joe Ingles, a Utah Jazz forward, added 17 points.

According to Ingles, Australia expected to beat the U.S. on Monday night.

“We walked into this game expecting to win,” Ingles said. “No disrespect to them, they’re a hell of a team; obviously, the guys they’ve got on their roster and Pop standing up there is always nice to see, but we came in here expecting to win the game, and that’s what we did.”

Team USA gets back at it on Tuesday night against Argentina. Maybe this will be the night that Team USA puts it all together. 

Photo: (Ned Dishman/NBAE/Getty Images)
 

 

Team USA’s 78-game win streak snapped after loss to Australia

The USA Basketball’s Men’s National Team knew it wasn’t going to be a cakewalk as it pursued a third straight FIBA World Cup championship.

Against host Australia, which was buoyed by a thunderous crowd, the Americans found out their path will indeed be treacherous.

With Patty Mills – who plays for U.S. head coachGregg Popovich with the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs – scoring his team’s final 10 points, Australia knocked off the U.S. 98-94 Saturday before 52,079 spectators at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, Australia. The U.S. beat Australia 102-86 two days earlier.

Mills finished with a game-high 30 points, including two clinching free throws with 11 seconds remaining. It was the first victory for Australia – ranked 11th by FIBA – over the U.S., which had won 78 straight in major international tournaments and exhibitions entering Saturday’s game.

“The Aussies gave us a great lesson as far as where we have to be and how we have to play in this kind of competition,” Popovich said. “So we’ll get used to that and hopefully learn.”

USA captain Kemba Walker came off the bench to score 22 points to lead the Americans, while Harrison Barnes had 20 points and six assists. Donovan Mitchell was the only other U.S. player to reach double figures with 12 points.

For Australia, Andrew Bogut had 16 points and nine rebounds, while Joe Ingles had 15 points and seven assists and Aron Baynes had 13 points. Mills, Bogut, Ingles and Baynes are among a half-dozen NBA players on the Boomers’ roster.

“Just watch tape and get more comfortable with our system,” Barnes said of what the U.S. needs to work on. “I think when you look at international play, every team that has been here for a long time but they kind of have their calling card on what they fall back into the system, sets. For us, we’re still getting to that point, we have some comfortability with it but it’s just continuing to be better at that.”

Following the game, the U.S. traveled to Sydney, where it will practice Sunday and play its final exhibition game before the World Cup. The U.S. will face Canada, ranked 23rd in the world by FIBA, on Monday. The Americans will have one more practice in Sydney before heading to China for the World Cup. The U.S., which currently has 13 active players, must make one more roster cut before the World Cup.

“The loss means that we need to play better,” Popovich said. “It’s a measure of who you are. Nobody wins forever. This is a group of guys that’s worked very hard, like I said, to get to know each other and get to know a system. And whatever comes, we can handle. Our job is to try to get better every day. We learned some things tonight. We’re actually a better team now than at the start of the game because of the knowledge from the game, so now we move on.”

The U.S. faces the Czech Republic to open the World Cup on Sept. 1 in Shanghai. Japan and Turkey are also in Group E. The U.S. needs to finish in the top seven to qualify for next year’s Olympic Games.

After clinging to a 49-48 lead at halftime, the Americans extended their advantage to 68-58 before the Aussies dug in. While acknowledging the Americans have pieces of their game to work on, Popovich credited the Aussies for playing an inspired game and earning a split of the two-game exhibition series.

“It’s really a testament to how long they stuck together to get this accomplished tonight,” Popovich said. “So, I’m going to give them credit at both ends of the court. They executed really well and they came up with the victory.”

Guard Marcus Smart, who had not played in either of the previous two exhibitions due to a calf injury, started for the U.S. The Boston Celtics star played nine minutes, 12 seconds and scored seven points, while grabbing one rebound and handing out three assists.

Walker, Turner lead Team USA past Australia

It was a celebration of basketball Thursday night in Australia as more than 50,000 fans packed Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium to see their Boomers take on the USA Basketball Men’s National Team.

While the scene was memorable, the fans left disappointed as the U.S. pulled away in the second half en route to a 102-86 victory. Make that two wins from two thus far in exhibition for the United States as it prepares for the upcoming FIBA World Cup in China Aug. 31-Sept. 15. U.S. captain Kemba Walker led all scorers with 23 points, and Myles Turner chipped in a double-double with 15 points and 14 boards. Donovan Mitchell accounted for 13 points, Kyle Kuzma san 4-of-5 3-pointers for 12 points and Jaylen Brown and Jason Tatum scored 11 points each.

“It was a physical game, the competitiveness was great on both ends,” said USA head coach Gregg Popovich. “I thought the Boomers run some hellacious offense, really hard to guard, they do a great job moving and cutting. Coach (Andrej) Lemanis has got them at a high level in that regard.”

It was a fine shooting night in total for the Americans as they shot 48% from the field and 43% from 3. Walker led a balanced scoring attack in which six players – and four starters – scored in double figures.

There were some familiar faces on both benches, with six players on Australia occupying a place on NBA rosters. Notable friends turned foes were the USA’s Mitchell and Australia’s Joe Ingles, who are teammates on the Utah Jazz. The basketball-crazy Australian fans turned out to Marvel Stadium – normally home to Australian Rules Football and soccer – to cheer on their heroes as well as see some of the best players in the world from the United States.

“It was an incredible atmosphere,” said U.S. forward Tatum, “unique experience.”

Though such a basketball scene may be rare Down Under, it was perhaps a familiar sight to players like Walker and Mason Plumlee who played in the NCAA Final Four. The court setup echoed the modern treatment of that event, with a raised court in the middle of the floor and fans surrounding it in temporary seats.

There were maybe some nerves at play for the Boomers as Team USA raced out to a 6-0 lead early. But thanks to the sharp shooting from distance by Matthew Dellavedova and Patty Mills, Australia closed the gap.

Helping keep Australia at bay was Kuzma, who did not start but made an impact off the bench by going 3-4 from deep in the first quarter. His only miss rattled out on a half-court attempt at the buzzer.

Australia’s Ingles opened the second quarter with a jumper to tie it, then Andrew Bogut – coached last year at Golden State by USA assistant Steve Kerr – threw down an emphatic dunk seconds later as the Boomers opened up their biggest lead of the game at three. But from there it appeared the USA might run away with things. The Americans went on a 17-3 run, scoring inside and outside.  Tatum nailed back-to-back 3s to open up an 11-point lead at 39-28.

But the Australia defense clamped down to close the half. Mills – coached by Popovich in San Antonio – drilled a 3 just before the buzzer to complete a 15-5 run and reduce the U.S. lead to one. Australia’s Chris Goulding scored 10 points, all off the bench.

“Our transition defense was poor and they got three 3s in a row and that’s what happened down the stretch in the second quarter,” Popovich said. “I think they scored 12 points in two-and-a-half minutes and three of those buckets we those 3s.”

The third quarter opened as almost a carbon copy of the second. Australia grabbed a lead, and the U.S. matched with a big run. But this time, the Americans didn’t let Australia back in the game. After Australia went up 45-44, the U.S. then put together a 13-0 run. Kuzma checked in for the first time in the half with 5:20 to go and showed no signs of being cold. He hit his fourth 3 of the game 14 seconds later to extend the lead to 62-50.

The U.S. hit 13 of 19 shots in the third quarter and outscored Australia 32-18. The Boomers opened up the fourth quarter with a 3 by Aron Baynes to pull to within 12, but they got no closer. The balanced U.S. scoring attack continued to fire on all cylinders, even flashing some highlight-reel material with a splendid alley-oop from Tatum toBrown with 3:57 left. That score opened up a 20-point lead, the largest of the game.

Despite allowing Australia to make some runs in the first half, Popovich was pleased with the effort of his team that is still coming together with a major tournament just ahead.

“We got used to the physicality, and changed up a couple things and we had some guys that did a good job,” Popovich said. “Myles Turner came in and gave us a big punch there, he was great. Obviously Kemba in pick-and-roll is pretty tough to guard, so we’re learning what we should be running offensively and what we should be doing based on our personnel. We’re obviously not an experienced team, these guys have never played together, so I think they’re doing a really good job of trying to come together quickly and learn about each other.”

These two teams will square off again on Saturday from the same court as World Cup preparation continues. Now that the teams have some familiarity with each other, the U.S. will have to react to adjustments that Australia will make.

“We need to make a few adjustments, a few mistakes that we had,” Kuzma said. “Obviously, they are going to make adjustments, and we just got to react to those.”

“It definitely changes everything, because they kind of see what we are about, what we do.” said Turner. “We just have to be ready for them.”

Photo: USA Basketball

Jeff Horn on Pacquiao victory: ‘There should be no arguments’

WBO welterweight champion Jeff Horn is still riding high after beating Manny Pacquiao in a controversial unanimous decision earlier this month. Many over the past few weeks have criticized Horn’s victory. Recently, the WBO had five judges review the fight; three of the judges gave the fight to Horn, one judge gave the fight to Pacquiao, and another judge scored the fight a draw.

Horn, 29, was very happy about the WBO’s decision. “I’m glad the results have come in from the other judges just full of variety, so there should be no arguments,” Horn told TMZ Sports. “It’s exactly what I felt on the day, and Pacquiao said the same thing after the fight that he thought he had lost. The decision stands.” (Reportedly Pacquiao called the judging “horrible”) 

While I thought Pacquiao won the fight, it was close enough where you could see someone giving the fight to Horn. However, if the fight was fought anywhere else but Australia, Pacquiao would have gotten the decision.

 

Twitter reaction to the “Bad Decision in Brisbane.” Horn defeats Pacquiao

In an absolute stunner, Manny Pacquiao lost a unanimous decision to Jeff Horn in Brisbane, Australia on Saturday night. Yes, Jeff Horn (17-0-1,11 KOs) who was a schoolteacher in Australia. While Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KOS) lost, it was clear that he won. The final scorecards were 117-111, 115-113, 115-113 all for the winner and new WBO welterweight champion Jeff Horn. 

Here is how Twitter reacted:

https://twitter.com/IrishDDizon/status/881378445418156034

Pacquiao-Horn to air on ESPN

WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao will fight Australia’s Jeff Horn live on ESPN from Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Australia, the network announced on Sunday. The 38-year-old Pacquiao has not fought on basic cable in almost 12 years.

This fight is scheduled for July 2 in Australia, but due to the time difference, it will air on July 1 in the United States.

There was no way this fight could sell on pay-per-view. Airing this fight on ESPN is a great move for Top Rank and Pacquiao. Hopefully, we will see bigger fights from Pacquiao in the future.