USA will play against Serbia for the gold medal in Olympic basketball tournament and this will be the rematch of World championship’s 2014 gold medal match.
USA came to Rio to win another gold medal and nobody thinks there is a team which can pose a threat to them. Although they didn’t bring in the best possible team on the tournament (for example, Steph Curry and LeBron James aren’t there), Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Carmelo Anthony, just to name the few, are regarded as unstoppable force. Are they really unbeatable?
Serbia qualified as the best “rest of the world” team to face USA in the final. Although they were tackled with injury of one of the best players, heart and soul of the team, Nemanja Bjelica, and a dispute between coach Djordjevic and NBA centre Marjanovic, who wasn’t called up for Rio, Serbia surprisingly came all the way to the final. They had a tough time in the group phase where they were defeated against USA, France and Australia. However, as soon as the knockout phase started, Serbia elevated their performance on another level and defeated Croatia and Australia for the final against USA.
Most of the world is probably cheering for Serbia in this match, as they are complete outsiders. Can they hurt USA and at least make the match interesting?
Two years ago Serbia performed even better on World Championship and before the final expectations were slightly higher than now – most of the experts stated that they expect a competitive game, at least in the first half. Serbia, and before that Yugoslavia, formerly played several competitive matches and even defeated USA on their soil in Indianapolis, but two years ago that didn’t happen, USA practically solved all mysteries in the first quarter of the match. The key for USA was completely stopping Serbia playmaker Milos Teodosic and there is no doubt that the coach Mike Krzyzewski will focus on that issue again.
On the other hand, Serbia has more experienced Bogdan Bogdanovic, fantastic shooter with a likely NBA future and Nikola Jokic, an NBA star in the making and those three players will be the key for Serbian success in this match.
In offense, USA will probably try to take advantage of their much stronger frontcourt and feed Jordan with balls he can dunk easily, using his huge physical advantage over Serbian centers.
Serbia has nothing to lose and they have a potential to play attractive, fast-paced basketball like USA so we may see a spectacular final between these two teams.