Argentina is once again among the eight best of the Olympic Games for the fifth consecutive edition, but the challenge that Facundo Campazzo, Luis Scola and company will face this Tuesday will be Australia, first in group B and undefeated, a team in which their good inside game and point guard Patty Mills stand out.
Nick Kay (6.3 rebounds per game), Aron Baynes (6) and Jock Landale (4.3) ensured a good rebounding production for the Australian ‘Boomers’ among the three, in addition to being all above 10 points on average per game at these Olympics. But Toronto Raptors player Baynes suffered a neck injury in the win over Italy and will miss the remainder of the Olympics.
This is precisely the area in which this Argentine team is scarcer, despite the fact that Luis Scola is starring in a great championship at 41 years old (19.7 points and 5.3 rebounds on average) and Marcos Delía (7.7 points and 6.3 rebounds on average) raised his numbers in the last game of the group stage defending the Japanese star Rui Hachimura, but who has not offered the required consistency. “They told us we were not big and look at the game Delía played,” Luca Vildoza stressed after the victory against Japan.
This is why the team led by Sergio ‘Oveja’ Hernández will have to have the extra help of Gabriel Deck and Nicolás Brussino for the rebound. And if necessary, good minutes from Juan Pablo Vaulet to refresh the interiors, and perhaps the presence of the young Francisco Caffaro or Tayavek Gallizzi, two interiors so far unnoticed.
Australia dominated the rebound in two of their three wins: Against Nigeria (84-67, 44 sacks versus 38 for the Nigerians) and Italy (83-86, 30-44 in rebounds for the Australians). Against Germany he lost on the rebound (28-45) but had a magnificent success (63% in field goals) and generated 42 points in the paint.
DUEL OF ARTISTS
If the match has incentives in the interior game, even more in the perimeter, where He will confront two artists of ball handling and open field play: Facundo Campazzo and Patty Mills.
The rhythm of the game will depend on his hands: if it is for Campazzo it will be dizzying, trying to run in transition whenever possible. Mills is also comfortable at high speed, but his team can play just as well in stationary attack.
The Australian guard is the third best scorer so far this tournament with 21.7 points per game. Only the phenomenon Luka Doncic (28.3) and local star Rui Hachimura (22.3) surpass him.
For his part, the Argentine is the third best ‘thief’ of balls, with 6 robberies so far this tournament. Australian guard Matisse Thybulle, who has stolen 10, improves his skills.
HABITUALS OF THE FIGHT FOR MEDALS
Both Argentines and Australians have become regulars in the fight for medals in international championships in recent championships. Not in vain, Argentina is the current world runner-up in China 2019, in which Australia was third. Both fell against Spain at the decisive moment of the tournament.
At the Games, Argentina was champion in Athens 2004 and bronze in Beijing 2008; while Australia has never won a medal yet, but was close on several occasions: it was a semi-finalist in Seoul 1988, Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000 and Rio 2016.
These two selected teams met in the previous one to travel to Tokyo, in a friendly in Las Vegas with the Australians triumphing 87-84 with a triple by Mills on the horn. The last official duel was in the group stage of the 2010 World Cup in Turkey, where Argentina won by a tight 74-72. Two years before they had met in Beijing 2008, also in the preliminary phase and with a victory for the Argentine team by 85-68. In both cases, the Albiceleste coach was the same as today: Sergio Hernández.