Unless the Australians upend an undefeated Russian team that has taken care of Brazil and Spain in preliminary play and Spain or Brazil loses by enough points to sway the tie-breaker (point differential), they are likely to play the United States in the quarterfinals. This isn’t a death sentence per se, Australia has shown they can compete against anyone, but it’s pretty close.
Australia is an underrated team that was on the verge of an upset over Brazil before a kicked ball essentially wiped out their chances. Their best player, Patty Mills, is averaging 22.5 points, tied with Luis Scola for the lead through four games.
His field goal percentage still isn’t acceptable, sitting at 44.4%, but he manages to use his speed and offensive freedom to impact the international game, even though he’s technically an inefficient option.
Overall, Mills’ Australian team doesn’t have enough talent to defeat Team USA — even after you factor David Andersen’s ability to stretch the defense at the 4 and 5 slots, Matthew Dellavedova’s ancillary combination of floaters and forays to the rim and Joe Ingles’ sinewy strength and fluid game. Those are all fine players.
To win, they’ll need Mills to score at least 20 points while doing so efficiently — they can’t afford too many empty possessions; winning by attrition simpy isn’t an option against the Americans. It may not be an option against the Russians either as they’ve developed into an elite contender.
In essence, there has been a confluence of factors have impeded Australia from making a Cinderella win. First, they receive an unlucky break against Brazil. Then they drew Spain. And in what seemed to be an important matchup for the third slot against Russia prior to the Olympics, and the right to avoid Team USA for awhile, is nearly void of significance.
When Australia looks back at their showing in London, they shouldn’t be disappointed. Instead, they should realize that sometimes Cinderella isn’t lucky enough to finish with a happy ending.