The first two days of 2016 Rio basketball preliminaries are complete, which means four ex-Mountain West players have made their first Olympic appearances. Six games were played in the past 48 hours, and three included former MW hoopers. Details of the first segment of 2016 Olympic basketball are highlighted below.
Mountain West Results
Group A (Saturday): Australia 87, France 66
The Aussies tipped of the 2016 Rio basketball preliminaries with some flare, pulling off a decisive upset over the French Saturday. Australia used a flawless second half performance to down France, outscoring the Franch 51-33 in the final 20 minutes.
Two ex-Mountain West players made appearances in this game for Australia, former Utah center Andrew Bogut (‘04-’05) and former New Mexico forward Cameron Bairstow (‘11-’14). Bairstow had a minimal impact Saturday, scoring a bucket off the bench in 14 minutes of play to help the Aussies. Bogut, however, showed yet again why he remains the centerpiece of the Australian National Team despite father time creeping in on his career.
Bogut was extremely active in the post against a shell-shocked French frontcourt, scoring 18 points (second to Patty Mills’ 21) including this monster dunk off the dribble.
Group A (Saturday): United States 119, China 62
Often in sports, the final score doesn’t display the level of competitiveness of a single game. This was not the case, however, in the United States’ 57-point destruction of China on Saturday afternoon. The Americans single-handedly dominated the Chinese on both ends of the floor, and appear primed for another gold medal run despite a fairly inexperienced roster.
Paul George, who spent the ‘09 and ‘10 season with the Fresno State Bulldogs, scored nearly a point-per-minute Saturday, pouring in 15 points off the bench in 18 minutes of playing time. George has a chip on his shoulder after suffering a gruesome leg injury in a USA scrimmage back in 2014, but showed no signs of a previous ailment on this reverse dunk in traffic Saturday.
Group B (Sunday): Argentina 94, Nigeria 66
Nigeria is the homeland to two ex-Mountain West players, former UNLV guard Michael Umeh (‘04-’07) and former Colorado State forward Andy Ogide (‘07-’11). Unfortunately for the Nigerians, there wasn’t much to cheer about Sunday night in Rio, as Argentina handed Nigeria a 28-point drubbing. Longtime NBA vets Luis Scola (18 points) and Manu Ginobili (12 points) helped guide Argentina.
Nigerian point guard Michael Umeh had a fairly quiet performance off the bench, adding five points in just over 21 minutes of action. Andy Ogide, in his first Olympic performance, tallied 11 points in 20 minutes for the Nigerians.
Serbia 86, Venezuela 62
Bogdan Bogdanovic led Serbia with 19 points and Miroslav Stimac added 18 in a blowout victory over the Venezuelans.
Lithuania 82, Brazil 76
Lithuania managed to hold off Brazil’s massive comeback bid thanks to five players finishing in double figures. Former Gonzaga forward Domantas Sabonis had 10 points for Lithuania.
Croatia 72, Spain 70
Paul Gasol’s 26 points were not enough for the Spaniards as Croatia outscored Spain 25-16 in the fourth quarter to grab its first victory of the 2016 Rio Games.
Monday - Group A
Serbia (1-0) vs. Australia (1-0) - 1:15pm ET
United States (1-0) vs. Venezuela (0-1) - 6pm ET
France (0-1) vs. China (0-1) - 9:30pm ET
Tuesday - Group B
Spain (0-1) vs. Brazil (0-1) - 1:15pm ET
Lithuania (1-0) vs. Nigeria (0-1) - 6pm ET
Argentina (1-0) vs. Croatia (1-0) - 9:30pm ET