August 18, 2016
The quarterfinals did not disappoint! Those were easily the best games of the entire tournament. It began with the upset of Australia by Serbia. Although very capable, Serbia had not reached their potential up until this point. Serbia took down the 2nd ranked Opals 73-71 who will fail to medal; the first time Australia will have failed to earn a medal since the 1992 Olympic Games. This game was followed by an even more exciting game as Spain defeated Turkey 64-62 on a buzzer beating shot by Anna Cruz. The excitement didn’t end there. France defeated Canada 68-63 in a game that saw Canada take an early 13 point lead. However, their offense dried up and France was able to claw their way back into the game to set up a meeting with the United States on Thursday. The United States were the only team that didn’t see much competition this round as they cruised to a 110-64 win over Japan. The semifinals are set, the first game will be the United States vs. France, followed by Spain vs. Serbia.
The United States have yet to be challenged during these Olympic Games and with Australia being eliminated during the quarterfinals it’s almost certain that the women will bring home the gold. In their win against Japan, the American women extended their olympic winning streak to 47 games. They’ve outscored their opponents in every single quarter so far and have won by an average margin of 41.7 points. It’s almost impossible to imagine these women losing a game but anything is possible right? France will be up for the challenge but they face a daunting task against the American women. Pretty much every single player on the French team will have to play out of their mind to knock the U.S. out of the Olympics. If anything, we are at least hoping for a decent game. Perhaps France can stay within 20 points of the Americans and for the women, that will be a close call.
Spain vs. Serbia will be much more of a battle. Both teams are coming off of exciting quarterfinal wins where they both won by just two points. Physically and mentally challenging, both teams will have to turn around after having just one day to prepare and play one of the biggest games of their lives. For Serbia Ana Dabovic will have to have another amazing outing as she is coming off a huge game against Australia where she led her team with 24 points, four assists and three steals. Serbia has shown to be a good defensive team; they forced Australia into 25 turnovers, however, they must shoot a better percentage if they want a real chance at defeating Spain. Serbia probably enjoys being the underdogs of the semifinals. For them, the pressure is off and they will be able to go out and play freely. All the pressure will be on Spain to win this game and that can either work for or against them. Anna Cruz saved the day for the Spaniards, but this didn’t come until the fourth quarter. Anna will have to show more throughout the game to keep her team ahead of the Serbs. Alba Torrens was held to just six points in the quarterfinals, far below her tournament average of 18.6 points in Rio. Torrens will have to be her usual self against Serbia who will certainly put the pressure on. This game should go down to the wire. Maybe we will see more heroics today! Whoever wins this game should begin to celebrate their silver medal.