USA-Serbia Men Set For Olympic Gold Medal Rematch
Rio de Janeiro
The 2016 Olympic men's basketball gold medal game between the U.S. (7-0) and Serbia (4-3) will be a rematch on several fronts.
The USA and Serbia went against each other on August 12 in Group A preliminary play and the USA prevailed, earning a hard-fought 94-91 victory.
Almost two years ago, September 14, 2014, the USA and Serbia also met in the gold medal game of the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Madrid, Spain. The USA capped its 9-0 run at the worlds by streamrolling Serbia for a 129-92 win.
This time, the stake will be at international basketball's highest level. While the USA will be looking for its 15th Olympic gold medal, Serbia - be it gold or silver - is already assured of its first Olympic men's basketball medal.
"Hopefully we can play our best game. We’re looking for a gold medal performance. We’ve had effort and we’ve had really good performances, but we would hope this one will be our best game," U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski said.
Prior to 2016 Olympics, the USA and Serbia had never met in Olympic play. But that changed on August 12 when the two teams squared off in the fourth game of Group A preliminary round play and the USA held off a late rally by Serbia to post a 94-91 victory.
In their preliminary round contest, the U.S. opened an 18-point lead in the first quarter, but Serbia reduced the U.S. advantage to nine points at the end of the second quarter, and it remaned a close game from that point on. Featuring a balanced scoring effort that saw six players score in double-figures, the USA also was helped by a U.S. men’s Olympic record 33 made free throws. Kyrie Irving had 15 points and five assists; DeAndre Jordan added 13 points; Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant each contributed 12; Paul George recorded 12 points and nine rebounds.
"Serbia came within a whisker of beating us in our pool play so we absolutely respect them. We know how good they are. They’re so well coached, Sasha (Djordjevic) does an amazing job with them. They have great comradery; they’re an outstanding passing team; an outstanding defensive team as was shown in the Australia game; and they’re led by one of the all-time great players internationally in Teodosic (Milos). So they’ll be very, very difficult for us," said Krzyzewski, who is now has led USA National Teams to an 87-1 record since taking the helm in 2006.
Previously, the U.S. and Serbia had only squared off on the hardwood once. The Americans faced Serbia in 2014 for the gold medal at the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Madrid, Spain. Tournament MVP Kyrie Irving scored 26 points for a convincing 129-92 win over Serbia. Irving shot a USA World Cup record 6-of-6 from 3-point, and the USA as a whole finished the game shooting 45-of-78 from the field (.577), and 15-of-30 from 3-point (.500). Eight U.S. players reached double-figure scoring, including Klay Thompson, 12 points, DeMarcus Cousins, 11 points and nine rebounds and DeMar DeRozan with 10.
Scoring at a clip of 101.6 points a game, the U.S. is the leading offensive team at the 2016 Olympics. Owning a +21.4 margin of victory in its seven victories, the USA offensively is led by Durant's 17.9 points a game, while Anthony is scoring 12.9 points, Irving is adding 12.4 points and 5.0 assists and Paul George tossing in 11.6. points.
The USA, which dominated Spain on the glass in the semifinals by a 53-41 margin, including 21-14 on the offensive boards, owns an Olympics best +8.4 rebound advantage. The U.S. rebounding effort is headed by Jordan, 6.3 rpg., with Durant, 5.3 rpg., Anthony, 5.0 rpg., George, 4.9 rpg. and DeMarcus Cousins, 4.4 rpg., all contributing to the advantage.
Serbia enters the gold medal game against the United States with a 4-3 record, having most recently routed Australia 87-61 in the semifinals.
Serbia over the course of its seven games in Rio is averaging 85.6 points a game. Seven-foot center Miroslav Raduljica currently leads his squad averaging 15.9 points a game; 6-foot-6 Bogdan Bogdanovic, whose draft rights are owned by the Sacramento Kings, is scoring 13.0 points per game; guard Milos Teodosic is adding 12.6 points and 5.7 assists, while Denver Nuggets forward Nikola Jokic is averaging 9.6 points and 6.3 rebounds.
Bogdanovic averaged 17.8 points 5.2 rebounds and 6.0 assists to lead Serbia to the title at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade and qualify for the Rio Olympics. Jokic was named MVP of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament after posting averges of 17.8 points and 7.5 rebounds in Serbia four games.
The U.S. men are enjoying four impressive win streaks. The USA National Team has now won 75 consecutive games. The streak dates back to August 28, 2004 when the U.S. Olympic team won its bronze medal game versus Lithuania (104-96). Additionally, the USA has now won 52 straight games in official FIBA and FIBA Americas competitions and 23 exhibition games. The red, white and blue have captured wins in 32 straight exhibition games, and the USA's final win streak is 24 consecutive Olympic wins.
Moving Up The Olympic Career Chart
Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant currently list among the top five in mulitple staistical areas., Anthony ranks in the top two in nine categories in the U.S. Olympic career record book, while Durant ranks in the U.S. Olympic career record book in the 11 categories.
Most Games Played: #1 - 30
Most Points Scored: #1 - 329 (11.0 ppg.)
Most Rebounds: #2 - 118 (3.9 rpg.)
Most FGM: #2 -110
Most FGA: #1 - 255
Most 3PM: #1 - 56
Most 3PA: #1 - 136
Most FTM: #1 - 53
Most FTA: #2 - 70
Most Points: #4 - 281 (18.7 ppg.)
Most Rebounds: #5 - 83 (5.5 rpg.)
Most FGM: #3 - 91
Most FGA: #5 - 172
Most 3PM: #2 - 54
Most 3PA: #2 - 97
Most 3P%: #3 - .557%
Most FTM: #3 - 45
Most FTA: #4 - 53
Most Assists: #10 - 45 (3.0 apg.)
Most Blocked Shots: #7 (tied) - 8