It took a while, but USA Basketball finally showed up in Rio. And not a moment too soon and nearly too late.
After beating Australia by 10, the US slipped past Serbia and France by 3 points each. With each win, questions mounted and confidence waned, so you knew they wanted to come out and make a statement against Argentina in the quarterfinal yesterday. And they did, early – statement being, UH-OH!
Argentina came flying out of the gates with a 19-9 lead and it looked like the Americans were on the ropes. After all, it was Argentina who beat the US in Athens that started the total overhaul of USA Basketball. And it looked like it was about to happen again. And then something happened. A 27-2 run happened. And USA basketball was in the building and a really good Argentina didn’t stand a chance.
Final score: USA 105, Argentina 78. Coach K’s group turn at 10 point deficit into a 27 point win.
This is the team that everyone expected – going off on big runs, hitting 11 of 13 shots on offense and locking down on defense. Kevin Durant scoring 13 in the first quarter and 27 overall. Paul George had 17 points and 8 rebounds. Kyrie Irving had 11 points and 3 dimes.
And Twitter was popping with highlights of Durant putting dudes on skates and Boogie Cousins doing what Boogie Cousins does. That wasn’t just a win that got them into the semifinals against Spain that was a win that got their confidence back.
Then again, maybe their confidence wasn’t shaken, but I know their fans were. Kyrie’s carving cats, guys are hitting shots, going on runs, and making everyone feel good again. And they’ll need that again tomorrow against Spain. Because the goal isn’t to reach the semifinals, the goal is gold. Always has been, always will be.
Just winning isn’t good enough, they have to win a certain way. The way they just did. Play like that and they’ll be fine.
Look, I can’t crack on the guys who are there: who gave up their summer and are playing for free (allegedly). Just don’t come home without the gold.
And make sure you win it by double digits. Because not doing so might be an even greater embarrassment to this country than Ryan Lochte.