Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Olympic Hoops

Hopperational details
Date & Venues
Tuesday 7 August 2012 at the Basketball Arena in the Olympic Park
The Olympic Games – London 2012
Women’s Basketball – quarter finals
Fourth Olympic sport seen live, 11th venue on my courthopping list for basketball
USA 91 Canada 48
Australia 75 China 60
This day in one sentence
More of the Olympics in the East End innit, but a blistered foot from yesterday meant that I could not set a new personal best for the stomp from West Ham station.
So what?
USA will meet Australia in the semi-final.
The drama unfolds
It was a nervy start and a low scoring first quarter, each team making unexpected mistakes like missing uncontested breakaway lay-ups.  Both sides were only making about 25% of their field goal attempts before USA seemed to settle first and they stretched out a 19-8 lead at the end of the first quarter.  The match was already over as a real contest, it would seem.

The second quarter saw USA proceeding serenely, having upped their field goal percentage to around 40 but Canada marooned in the 20s.  Several times, the Canadians failed to get a shot away in the 24 seconds allowed.  The lead was up to 21 points (42-21) by half-time and would have been more but for an outrageous hook for 2 from Canada’s Shona Thorburn with microseconds left on the clock.

Here is a brief clip of the half-term entertainment which at least woke the crowd up.

Here is a clip from the restart – more of the same.  Canada are in red.  It was 66-31 at the end of the third quarter, with USA outscoring Canada 2 to 1 on almost all the relevant stats such as rebounds and assists.  Top scorer was Diana Taurasi with 15 and the USA could afford to leave her on the bench for the rest of the game.

The final score was 91-48, a real thrashing for a quarter-final.  We enjoyed a showboat two from USA’s Maya Moore, and Kim Smith top scored for the losers with 13 points.  To be honest, I’d expected something closer as a sporting spectacle.

We were all pleased when Australia and China started trading baskets in a much closer contest.  Here is an early clip to set the scene.  Australia are in yellow.

China took the lead for the first time at 12-14 but were immediately pegged back to 14-14.  A Chinese attack led to a collision with a cameraman who then started to flinch visibiy every time the ball went to his end.  Aussie Suzy Batkovic launched a 6-0 tear with a piece of athleticism to keep the ball in play before one more score for each side left the score at 22-16 at the end of the first quarter.

China played really well in the second quarter.  Australia called a timeout at 25-21 and another one after the game had been tied at 29-29 and 31-31.  Xiaoyun Song threw a three from chest level to give China a one point lead, Batkovic missed one, and there was one more field goal each before the interval.  35-36 at half-time.  Australia had converted about 1 in 3 of their goal attempts whereas China averaged nearer 1 in 2.  All to play for.

This clip from early in the 3rd quarter finishes with a technical foul and Australia back in the lead by one point at 41-10.

The Aussies hit foul trouble and free throws restored China’s lead and extended it to three points.  However, the game turned again with a six-point swing.  Liz Cambage made a great defensive block, they took two breakaway chances and then Cambage hooked in another two pointer.  China scored to keep the margin at three points, 55-52 at the end of the third.  It appeared that this game could go either way.

Australia kept the lead during the early exchanges until suddenly the game slipped away from China in the blink of an eye.  Cambage got a three-point play by adding one from the free-throw line, Lauren Jackson scored a three, Batkovic and Jackson scored again and suddenly it was 71-58 with under four minutes to go.  That destructive burst denied us the chance of a tight finish, and Australia were able to run down the clock on their way to a 75-60 win.

For the record, #2 son @yappattack had tweeted that I should look out for Australia’s “big three” who had impressed him in earlier games, and he was spot on.  Cambage, Jackson and Batkovic had 17, 12 and 10 points respectively and thus Zengyu Ma’s 15 and Lijie Miao’s 13 were on the losing side.

There was time in the evening for a trip up to the viewing platform of The Orbit, Anish Kapoor’s curvy installation which allows some great views of the Olympic Park and London beyond.

What Next?
Olympic Table Tennis on Wednesday!  FA Cup groundhopping at Sleaford Town on Saturday.

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