The United States men’s basketball team had to get gritty to win their third match of the Rio 2016 Olympics, beating a physical Australian side 98-88 on Wednesday.
The Americans are big favourites to claim gold for the third success games, and breezed past China and Venezuela before the boomers made life difficult at the top of Group A.
“It was an adjustment for us,” said NBA star Paul George of the Indiana Pacers. “We knew we were going to get their best. The game kind of got out of hand early with the physical play.
“We knew that coming in – this team has a knack for being a little dirty. We were doing the same stuff they were doing and we got hacked for it.
“We’re fine playing physical, that’s our game in the NBA, but if they going to allow us to play that way they got to play it both ways.”
The match saw George clash with Matthew Dellavedova, the Milwaukee Bucks point guard who was recently voted the NBA’s dirtiest player, but the Australian camp wasn’t bothered.
“Tell ’em that’s international basketball,” said Aussie assistant coach and former NBA star Luc Longley in response to George, while centre Andrew Bogut was left similarly frustrated.
“We had every opportunity to try to push the game,” said the Dallas Mavericks man. “We lost the game, we cannot sugarcoat it.
“We believed we could compete and we are disappointed with the result. It’s an early round, we have work to do. We may play them [again] down the track. It was a decent performance but we can clean things up.”