Team U.S.A. is pretty much the consensus pick to capture gold at the 2012 London Games, but they still look vulnerable at times during this tournament. They escaped with a narrow win over Lithuania and looked out of sorts in the first half during the game versus Argentina. However, they are still undefeated in the tournament and will next face San Antonio Spurs' Patty Mills and Team Australia.
The Australian squad, however, is one scrappy team led by Mills. Australia upset Russia thanks in part to Mills' heroics, and will be looking to pull off another upset win over the Americans in game one of their quarterfinals matchup.
And Mills and his teammates are oozing with confidence heading into their game versus the U.S.
“We have no choice. We have to believe that we can win,” Mills said. “We’re going into the next game with all we’ve got. Going into the quarter-finals and going against the United States, it’s amazing to me.
“There’s a different feel, a different vibe, a different belief in ourselves for our goal to be reached.”
“That’s what the group does well, overcome that intimidation factor because we have worried about ourselves,” Mills said.
“We’re not distracted. We’re not worried about other things. I don’t think intimidation will play a factor in the next game. We will have self belief and go into the game confident we can win.”
Even the Aussies head coach and Spurs assistant coach, Brett Brown, knows it's going to take lots of confidence against the Americans.
“We need every bit of that swagger and growth when we play the United States,” Brown said.
“This group enables me to dream a little deeper and a little more seriously. Our confidence is born out of our hard work. We believe we haven’t skipped any steps and we have the opportunity for something really special.”
“I’m very familiar with what we are about to encounter,” Brown said. “It’s a considerable challenge but one we embrace. We want to continue our good form.
“What’s intimidating is they have fixed their ‘rental player’ situation from the past and they have a focused team and one coach.”
The odds may be stacked against Australia heading into tomorrow's matchup with the U.S. but don't count out Australia. Russia got a dose of reality in their game against the Aussies and Team U.S.A. should not take Australia lightly. Just ask Mills.
“We’re playing better each game. They are the best team in the world but what better opportunity to beat them.”