The Americans have already dispatched two superior teams in Argentina and France by an average margin of 28 points in preliminary play and don’t look interested in giving their less formidable opponents any hope or confidence.
But Team USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski praised the Australian basketball program, who finished with a 3-2 record in Pool B, and Patty Mills, specifically.
“I’ve always had an unbelievable amount of respect for the competitiveness of all Australian teams, particularly basketball,” Krzyzewski said. “Mills has had an amazing tournament. Just an incredible tournament. They play with great heart and they are extremely well coached.”
Australia, with Mills leading the way at 20.6 points per game, finished as the fourth most proficient offense. Yet it was their defense that not only bolstered their offense but was the driving force behind their success. Russia and Brazil were the only teams to allow less points than the Boomers in pool play.
“They probably play as good a defense as anybody in the tournament,” Krzyzewski said. “Their man-to-man defense, the times I’ve watched them, has been co-ordained with great effort. They have great spirit and good talent. We’ll study them closer tonight. I know those things already.”
The odds that Australia pulls off the upset are inordinately low but they play well enough on both sides of the floor to give the Americans a brief pause.