By: Jeffrey Newholm
Kevin Durant hit seven threes, Paul George added 17 points and the US looked strong in starting the knockout stage with a 105-78 victory over Argentina in the Olympic quarterfinals. The US looked rather ordinary in its last three prelim games, and it seemed a matter of great concern when the Argentinians took an early 10 point lead. But the US quickly roared back to quickly take a 20 point lead, and then continued to build on the lead in the second half. Judging by the rather jubilant enthusiasm of their fans, Argentina proved to be an over-matched team satisfied just to make it to the knockout round. Nevertheless, it was a strongly encouraging game for the Americans.
My perspective is Argentina did the US a huge favor by playing so well early. In the words of Japanese admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, they seemed to have awoken a sleeping giant. The US played with enthusiasm in exhibition play, but shockingly looked to be playing scared at times in the preliminary games. Against their South American challengers, the US looked to be having fun again. The bench showed great body language during the first half run, and quickly the only concern was the team having a bit too much fun as the Argentinians went on a small counter-run. Most encouraging to me was the fact the team never let up in the second half, refusing to repeat their mistake of letting their feet off the gas pedal.
As the team prepares for its semifinal matchup with Spain (time TBD), there is thankfully cause for genuine optimism for another US golden achievement. The team foolishly hit the snooze button a few times for “wake-up call” earlier in the tournament, but seemed to suddenly jolt out of bed when trailing their quarterfinal opponent. What American fans frightfully forgot is now happily remembered: the US has the most talented team. And with just two more games to go, our men are finally playing like it.
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