With the field down to just four remaining teams, Australia takes on Spain in the men’s basketball Olympic bronze medal match (10.30am ET, Sunday). Here we preview the game for third place with our betting picks conclusion.
Australia, which was eliminated in both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics in the quarterfinal round with a record of 3-3, came into this year’s games with something to prove. Having not played in the medal round since they hosted the games in 2000 at Sydney, Australia will be looking for their first men’s basketball Olympic medal of any color. Their women’s team meanwhile, which was shut out of a medal this year, had won one in each of the last five Olympics dating back to the 1996 Games in Atlanta.
This year’s men’s team, which is one of the most talented they have had in years is led by NBA stars Andrew Bogut (pictured) of the Dallas Mavericks, Matthew Dellavedova of the Milwaukee Bucks and Patty Mills of the San Antonio Spurs. Bogut especially has been a star for Team Australia, proving he can still be a two-way player with his per game averages of 11.6 points, six rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.4 blocks. From the field, he’s been shooting remarkably, over 80 percent.
What is most spectacular about Bogut’s performance however is that he suffered an injury in game five of the NBA Finals while playing with the Golden State Warriors. He was slated to miss six to eight weeks meaning his time for Olympic preparation was slim to none. He played very sparingly for the national team over the summer, but when the most important games came, Bogut was at his best and has yet to let down his country.
A seven foot, 260 pound big man, Bogut has led the way for his teammates, creating opportunities and setting screens that have allowed his best backcourt, which is one of the best throughout this competition, the chance to score and score often. Dellavedova leads the Olympic tournament in assists with 7.7. per game and a 7.7. to 1 assist/turnover ratio and Mills is the second leading scoring of the contest, averaging 21.2 points and 49.3 percent shooting from the field.
Thanks to this trio, in a pool game against the United States, Australia gave the defending gold medalists their first real challenge, losing to the heavy favorites by just 10 points. The conclusion of pool play saw Australia go 5-1, second only to USA. It had some experts saying they could challenge the Americans for the gold. Unfortunately for Australia, that opportunity ended at the hands of Serbia, which with a slew of NBA’ers of its own, came out on top and played a much more complete game than the Aussies.
That leaves Australia in the bronze medal game against a very tough Spain team, which is no stranger to Olympic medals. Spain are the two-time defending silver medalists thanks to a roster which remains very much unchanged this year.
Spain is led by players from its national team which has been one of the best in the EuroBasket tournaments leading up to this year’s games. Additionally, the team is captained by Pau Gasol of the Chicago Bulls, who was on both of the country’s silver medal winning teams.
Gasol leads Spain with an average of 17 points as well as 8.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.2 blocks. He has been shooting 50 percent from the field and even better, 56.2 percent from the three point line. Defensively, he is the team’s anchor and offensively, this is the best basketball Gasol has played in some time. Against the U.S. in the semifinals, which saw Spain lose by just six points, Gasol led all players with 23 points.
Behind Gasol is his Chicago teammate, Nikola Mirotic, who led the team in its victory against France in the quarterfinals. He stood out in the game as did some of Spain’s younger stars, stepping in and stepping up as Gasol was hampered by a calf injury that almost left him unable to play. Mirotic used his talent and his size to body up Nicolas Batum and to best Boris Diaw, two of his NBA counterparts. He wasn’t hesitant to shoot from beyond the arc and did so with a great deal of efficiency.
Spain were slow starters, losing unexpectedly to Brazil and then again to Croatia. However, with its team beginning to gel and all of its players finding their groove as a unit, they have been playing some of the best basketball of the tournament aside from the USA.
Bronze Medal Game: Spain vs Australia Betting Picks Verdict
While both of these teams would have rather been playing for the gold, viewers are going to be treated to a great game and a great matchup. Both teams have played well and showed their ability by pushing the USA to the brink.
We are looking at two teams with top level scorers, that have made huge defensive stops along the way behind the efforts of Bogut and Gasol. But the pressure is on Australia more than Spain. For the Spanish, this would be their third medal in the last three Olympics. For the Aussies, it will be their first medal ever. So here are this preview’s betting picks: