American basketball fans are going wild for an Aussie international who plays on the Philadelphia 76ers — and it’s not Ben Simmons.
American punters have lauded Aussie Olympian Matisse Thybulle for completely neutralising NBA superstar Steph Curry in the Philadelphia 76ers’ upset 102-93 win over the Golden State Warriors.
Curry, widely regarded as one of this century’s greatest NBA players, came into Sunday’s game (AEDT) just ten three-pointers shy of the all-time NBA record.
But Thybulle, who won bronze with the Boomers in Tokyo, used his enviable combination of speed, size and basketball IQ to postpone the marquee Warrior’s milestone.
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Thybulle had accumulated four personal fouls by the third quarter but in a testament to his effectiveness at keeping Curry quiet, Sixers coach Doc Rivers chose to keep the Arizona-born-Sydney-raised star on the court for the entire last period.
The risk paid off — Curry finished the game having landed just three of his 14 attempts from downtown, largely because of Thybulle’s ability to frustrate him into shooting waywardly.
While Curry came into the game with hopes of entering the history books, it was Thybulle who left Wells Fargo Centre with a record to his name — he is now the only player to have blocked multiple Steph Curry three-point attempts in a single game.
“Thybulle has been the guy. The block shot of the three-point attempt of Steph Curry, individually getting it done,” said ABC’s Mark Jackson in commentary.
“He’s been stellar.”
“Named after the French artist, Henri Matisse, the great painter. He’s quite the artist himself on the court,” added commentator Jeff Van Gundy.
At full-time, Thybulle said he and teammate Joel Embiid had done their homework on Curry.
“It’s no secret that he’s going for this record right now,” Thybulle said.
“Joel and I talked today and he said, ‘We’re not letting that happen in our house’, so I took it upon myself to make sure it didn’t.”
Embiid said the performance proved Thybulle was “probably the best perimeter defender in the league.”
“I think he has a chance to be defensive player of the year,” Embiid said of his teammate.
Even Warriors coach Steve Kerr was full of praise for Thybulle.
“I thought he was fantastic defensively. He’s a rare combination of length and athleticism and brains. He did as good of a job on Steph as anybody I’ve seen in a long time,” Kerr said.