China vs Germany
Germany has a reputation for being a jump shooting team and the same can be said of China in this tournament. (I’m not sure I’d say China wants to be a jump shooting team, but nobody seems to miss more lay-ups and 6 foot floaters than China.) And as a result of the well-defended jump shots we got one of the worst shooting games of the tournament with both teams shooting under 35% for the game. But the excitement in the fourth quarter, and the importance of this game (loser likely eliminated from next round), kept the drama alive despite the poor shooting.
Just like against Spain, China built a 13 point lead with about 6 minutes left in the fourth quarter. But even as China made a basket, you could tell none of the fans watching felt like the lead was big enough. And sure enough, a host of jumpers by Germany cut into the lead. Dirk Nowitzki’s three cut the lead to 1 with just two minutes to go, and with a minute to go in the game Dirk had the ball in his hands with a chance to take the lead. But two big calls against Nowitzki ultimately decided the game. After a traveling call on Dirk had caused him to turn it over with 2 and a half minutes left in the game, Dirk went to the basket and was called for a charge with only a minute to go. Nowtitzki’s runner went down, but the officials ruled Yao Ming had position and drew the charge and Germany would get no closer.
Yi Jianlian’s jumper in the final minute padded the lead and provided the final comfortable margin, but if you are looking for an image of victory for China in this Olympic basketball tournament, it was Yao Ming standing tough in the middle, drawing a charge, and holding off the German comeback.
Australia vs Russia
This was another huge game. The winner would advance out of Group A and the loser would be eliminated from the next round. In the first half, Australia was much more balanced than Russia. Australia took the ball to the basket in transition, made shots in the post, and made open threes when appropriate in the offense. I particularly thought David Anderson provided a nice spark. Russia on the other hand was almost completely dependent on the inside game. Aleksey Savrasenko really kept Russia in the game with his inside baskets. Still, Russia trailed by 16 at halftime.
Russia opened up the second half with a number of steals and momentarily trimmed the lead to 7. Andrei Kirilenko may have lost some of his offensive firepower over the years, but his long reach continues to force turnovers. But Australia eventually adjusted to the fact that Russia was cheating and looking for steals, and the Australians made some easy baskets to extend the lead back to 17. Russia’s John-Robert Holden made some key jumpers including a three pointer to end the third quarter, but it ultimately wasn’t enough. Russia simply didn’t have enough perimeter play and balance to advance in Group A. Australia’s reward for this victory is a quarterfinal match with the winner of the US-Spain game.
Lithuania vs Croatia: Lithuania outscored Crotia by 17 in the final period and is now set as the top seed in Group A. Lithuania should face the loser of Monday’s China vs Greece game in the quarterfinals.
Argentina vs Iran: Argentina defeated Iran and holds the second seed in Group A. Argentina should face the winner of Monday’s China vs Greece game in the quarterfinals.
Greece vs Angola: Greece scored 100 in the victory.
And now folks, its time for the main event. US vs Spain.