RIO DE JANEIRO (Rio 2016 Olympic Games) – Serbia cruised to a resounding 87-61 win over Australia in Friday’s second Semi-Final of the Olympic Basketball Tournament to set up a showdown with the USA in Sunday’s Gold Medal Game.
Serbia last reached the Olympic Final 20 years ago. At the Atlanta 1996 Games, playing under the flag of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, they lost to the USA, 95-69. The USA and Serbia faced each other in the Group Phase in Rio, with the two-time defending champions edging out a 94-91 win.
Australia will face Spain in the Bronze Medal Game in the search of a first-ever medal at an Olympics.
Serbia were in control of Friday night’s game right from the start, scoring the opening eight points and forcing Australia into bad shots and costly turnovers. It didn’t help that the Boomers were ice cold, going 2-of-15 from the field, as they trailed 16-5 by the end of the first quarter.
It was more of the same in the second period as Australia continued to struggle to find the bottom of the net while Serbia tightened their grip on the game by closing out the first half on a 9-0 run for a commanding 35-14 lead.
Australia broke out of their slump in the third quarter, scoring 24 points but Serbia had 31 of their own as they headed into the final frame up 66-38, with the win all but wrapped up.
Turning Point: Milos Teodosic hit a jumper despite Matthew Dellevadova – who was late in closing down on him – colliding into the back of him and the Serbian playmaker hit the free-throw to convert a three-point play that put Serbia up 24-10 with 6:37 to go in the first half.
Stats Don’t Lie: Australia were a meager 6-of-29 (21 percent) from the field in the first half, compared to a much more respectable 13-of-27 (48 percent) for Serbia. With shots not falling for them, the Boomers could not even generate offense from the free-throw line as they had no foul shot attempts through the first two quarters.
Hero: Teodosic was in attack mode right from the get go, scoring 6 of Serbia’s first 12 points. It gave Serbia the start they needed and they never looked back. Teodosic finished with 22 points and 5 assists.
The Bottom Line: The USA and Serbia last squared off in a title game on a global stage in the Final of the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup, which the Americans won 129-92.