Australia to play Serbia for gold medal match berth

Published 19 August 2016 (AEDT)

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 17: Matthew Dellavedova #8 of Australia high fives teammates prior to the Men's Quarterfinal match against Team Lithuania on Day 12 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Carioca Arena 1 on August 17, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. © 2016 Getty Images

BASKETBALL: Australia will face Serbia on Friday August 19 at 7pm (8am Saturday August 20 AET) for a berth in the gold medal game of the Olympic men’s basketball competition.

The Australians are the talk of the tournament, boasting five wins from six games, including a 95-80 victory over the Serbs on the second game of the competition. The green and gold advanced to the semi-final showdown with an emphatic 90-64 victory over Lithuania, while Serbia outlasted Croatia 86-83.

This will be Australia’s fourth semi-final appearance, having progressed to this stage in 1988, 1996 and 2000. Serbia won its only previous semi-final back in 1996.

Centre Andrew Bogut made his Olympic debut in 2004 when Australia finished ninth, and now he and his teammates have the opportunity to chase a gold medal.

“It is exciting,” Bogut said.

“You would be silly not to be excited to be in this situation. It doesn’t come around very often – we haven’t been in the (semi-finals) for nearly two decades and to fight for a medal is great.

“Serbia is a very tough team. If you look at the FIBA rankings we weren’t meant to be here in the top four. We have a group of guys that have played NBA finals, played in game sevens, played in the Euro League finals. We know what to expect – we have played in big games.”

Bogut sees a great camaraderie and togetherness in the Australian squad.

“We are playing team basketball,” Bogut said.

“Usually teams that are successful play for each other. We move the ball well and we are organised defensively. You can see we are a close team on the court."

The starting five of Patty Mills, Matthew Dellavedova, Joe Ingles, Aron Baynes and Andrew Bogut have led the Aussie’s superbly throughout the event.

Mills is second in the tournament in scoring 21.2 points per game (ppg). Bogut has contributed 11.6 ppg, 6 rebounds per game and 4.4 assists per game; Baynes 10.7 ppg and 5.7 rpg; Ingles 7.7 ppg and 4 apg and Dellavedova 10.3 ppg while shooting at 53.8% from beyond the three-point arc.

Good support has come from the bench in the form of Ryan Broekhoff (7 ppg, 3.3 rpg and 2 apg); Kevin Lisch (3 ppg and 1.8 apg); quadruple David Andersen (9.2 ppg and 4.8 rpg); Damian Martin (2.2 apg); Chris Goulding (4.8 ppg); Brock Motum (4.8 ppg) and Cameron Bairstow (5.4 ppg and 4.4 rpg).

With so much depth at its disposal, Australia has been able to lock down defensively and it sits second in team scoring at 89 points per game on a tournament best 51.7% shooting from the field.

Bogut and Baynes have been a key duo, and Bogut believes the pair have given Australia an advantage as most teams have adopted a new approach.

“Most teams have gone small and we have bucked the trend and gone big and done a good job of it,” Bogut said.

“It took us a couple of games to get used to each other. I didn’t play too much in the lead up and that threw Baynesy out a bit early. We understand how we can benefit each other.”

Serbia has been led by Miroslav Radulica who has averaged 16.7 ppg on 63% shooting and Bogdan Bogdanovic who has contributed 14.2 ppg on 51.6% accuracy.

The winner of the semi-final will battle either the United States or Spain for the gold medal on Sunday.

Kevin Diggerson
olympics.com.au

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