Tokyo Olympics

France, Australia go 3-0 in Olympic basketball

Reuters
France, Australia go 3-0 in Olympic basketball

HOTSHOT. Australian star Patty Mills tries to get past German Johannes Voigtmann in their preliminary group match.

Brian Snyder/Reuters

As basketball has grown in popularity around the globe, many national teams can field players with NBA experience, and the US' talent advantage has shrunk

France and Australia completed sweeps of their preliminary groups in Olympic men’s basketball on Saturday, July 31, as seedings for next week’s last-eight showdowns took shape.

Real Madrid’s Thomas Heurtel led with 16 points in France’s 79-62 victory over Iran. They went 3-0 in Group A, including their upset win over Team USA on Sunday.

Despite his team’s dominant showing so far, Evan Fournier would not speculate on France’s chances of a medal.

“Quarterfinal first. Focus on that,” said Fournier, who plays for the NBA’s Boston Celtics. “Too many times we’ve beaten very, very good teams and we lost in the semifinal, so no more of that.”

Scintillating Mills

Australia’s Patty Mills was scintillating behind the three-point line, powering his team to an 89-76 victory over Germany.

Mills led the Boomers with 24 points and 6 assists, while Jock Landale added 18 points and Nick Kay had 16.

Australia will go into the quarterfinals without forward Aron Baynes, who aggravated a neck injury after a bathroom slip and is out of the Games.

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With a 1-2 record, Germany still has a chance to move on depending on the scoring of other third-placed teams in group play.

Italy finished 2-1 in the preliminaries and go on to the quarterfinals next Tuesday. Nico Mannion drained a three-pointer in the last 30 seconds to fend off a comeback from Nigeria, with his team holding on to win 80-71.

“Honestly, it felt good just to see one go in. I shot it terrible the whole night,” said Mannion, who plays for the NBA’s Golden State Warriors. “But you know, shooters keep shooting.

Team USA has historically been the team to beat, with a 139-6 record and 15 gold medals since 1936.

But as the sport has grown in popularity around the globe, many national teams can field players with NBA experience, and the US’ talent advantage has shrunk.

Before losing to France at these Olympics, the US dropped two straight exhibition games this month, including a defeat by world 22nd-ranked Nigeria.

Both Iran and Nigeria finished their Olympic journeys winless, and offered bitter parting words.

Arsalan Kazemi said travel restrictions on Iran prevented the team playing in friendly matches, while Nigeria’s Chimezie Metu blasted the nation’s government for lack of support.

“Our government and the Olympic committee of Nigeria, they make it extremely difficult for us to go out there and just focus on performing our sport,” he said. – Rappler.com