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Rio 2016: Australia give Team USA their first tough test

The Americans bounced back from a first-half deficit to avoid the upset, but Australia, led by Patty Mills' 30 points, showed they're no pushover.

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Aussie legend (and one-time Spur) Andrew Gaze theorized that Australia, heading into their group-stage match against overwhelming gold-medal favorites Team USA, would hold back some aspect of their gameplan, "Pop-style", in anticipation of a potential second meeting in the knockout rounds. Whether or not they did, the Boomers will still be riding high after a gutsy performance in Wednesday's 98-88 loss, in which they rarely seemed overwhelmed, even when the Americans looked poised to run away with the game.

It was the Spurs' Patty Mills again leading the Boomers' attack, scoring on drives to the rim...

...getting found on cuts...

...and, as he's known to do, hitting from three (he was 5 for 11). In his expanded role on the Olympic stage, Mills, who turns 28 today (happy birthday, Patty!), is now averaging 26 points per game.

But after racing to a five-point half-time lead behind the play of Mills, Andrew Bogut, Matthew Dellavedova and David Andersen, the Aussies soon fell behind, allowing Team USA to score the first nine points of the third quarter. Still they continued to battle, and the lead stayed within four for most of the remainder of the game, no matter who was on the floor for the Boomers.

Meanwhile the US rode the hot hands of Kyrie Irving (19 points) and Carmelo Anthony (31 points). The latter surpassed LeBron James to become Team USA's all-time leading Olympic scorer, while the former drained this clutch bucket late to seal the win for his team.

Both teams will come out of this game feeling pretty good, the Americans for having handled their first bit of adversity well, and the Australians for having shown they have what it takes to vie for an Olympic medal.