U.S. Boogies to World Cup gold

At one point, DeMarcus Cousins was on the bubble to make the U.S. roster. No one really had any idea what to expect from the U.S. as they made their roster selections, but many believed they would elect to go small.

It became clearer though that the U.S. was anticipating that matchup against big and burly Spain and they added more height taking both DeMarcus Cousins and Andre Drummond to Spain.

The Spanish national team was eliminated in the quarterfinals rather unexpectedly. Still Cousins, that player who was on the bubble and whose attitude was questioned in the sometimes unpredictable world of FIBA officiating, would prove important.

Serbia raced out to a 15-7 lead, penetrating easily in pick and rolls and working backdoor cuts to get a lot of baskets at the hoop. Worse, Serbia put Anthony Davis in foul trouble and Team USA seemed rushed and a bit too excited to be playing in the gold medal game. Coach Mike Krzyzewski called a timeout.

Enter DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins.

It was somewhat amazing to see Cousins have the energy to pull out those dance moves. Because his presence defensively and around the basket changed the game and enabled the U.S. to finish the first quarter on a 28-6 run. The game was over before it really began.

Serbia was demorazlied and had no chance of recovering with tournament MVP Kyrie Irving draining 3-pointers at an unbelievable pace — 26 points on 6-for-6 shooting from beyond the arc, including so many heat checks that just fell in.

The lead ballooned and ballooned. It was over by halftime. It was over by the middle of the second quarter. It might have been over at the end of the first quarter.

Team USA left no doubt who deserved to win the gold medal and coasted to victory. Defense was not needed in the end after the team took the lead and just poured it on and on. Serbia was the one pressing in the end, unable to recover after that Team USA first-quarter onslaught.

Cousins had 11 points and nine rebounds off the bench, hardly exemplifying the impact he made in this game. After Cousins brought the energy, Irving and Harden took things from there.

Harden had 23 points. Eventually seven U.S. players scored in double figures in this complete domination of Serbia.

And this is certainly a big accomplishment for Team USA. This is a team that lost its two best players during training camp with Paul George going down with an injury and Kevin Durant pulling out citing fatigue. This was not the best team USA had to offer. And Spain posed a big threat. Maybe, Team USA lucked out in not facing them.

But each team the U.S. played were felled rather easily. There were questions for sure. Team USA was never quite in sync offensively or defensively. But it took just one overwhelming stretch in each game to demoralize their opponents and pull out the win.

This gold medal was not easy despite what the margin of victories would have you think. They had to work for many of these wins and scratch out victories.

They overcame the challenges. And have plenty of reasons to celebrate.

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily