“They’ve got a lot of firepower so we knew that if we gave them an inch, they would be able to take a mile,’’ said Australia’s Matisse Thybulle. “I think we played well, played hard for the majority of the game but they don’t need much to get going.”
Jock Landale said Australia had no answer when momentum shifted.
“They figure out what you’re doing and they just find ways to exploit it,’’ he said. “I think we started turning the ball over in that third quarter and they were just living in transition. And that’s tough to beat.”
The U.S. is now 9-0 against Australia in the Olympics.
Australia can still end up with its first-ever Olympic medal in basketball, playing in the bronze medal game Saturday against Slovenia, who lost in the other semifinal against France. They lost the bronze medal game by a point to Spain at the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016.
The U.S. team, ranked No. 1 in the world, made it to the semifinal after defeating Spain on Tuesday, 95-81, despite a similarly sluggish start.
The Americans are trying to rewrite their story line from curiously questionable team to strong finisher, if not gold medalist.
And Durant said he is confident that will be the result, as long as the Americans continue to regroup on defense.
“I’m looking forward to going out there and executing the game plan on defense,” he said. “Offensively we’re not worried about that, but going out there and executing the game plan defensively as a team, and we’ll see what happens.”
After two exhibition losses before the start of the Games, including to Australia, the United States started its Olympic campaign with their loss to France. The Americans mostly cruised through their next two contests — against far weaker opponents, Iran and the Czech Republic — and had some time to establish some rhythm as a group.