Olympics basketball forecast
Team USA had better watch out for Spain and Argentina
In 2008, the United States basketball team was on a mission to restore our title as the best basketball nation in the world. Named the “Redeem Team,” Team USA showed dominance resembling the classic Dream Teams of the past en route to the gold medal. They were under massive pressure from the nation to deliver following the disappointment of the 2004 team. This year’s team is more worried about bragging about upstaging the 1992 Dream Team and dunking exhibitions than defending the title. Despite being lead by LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, key players like Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose are injured.
But before the Olympics, America will play some tune-up games to get ready for London. They already passed their first test by embarrassing the Dominican Republic 113-59. John Calipari lent his services to the Dominican but it was no match for the athleticism and talent of the United States. However, the victory was bittersweet as L.A Clippers star Blake Griffin was injured in practice prior to tip-off. Now Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski must depend on No. 1 pick Anthony Davis to play big minutes against difficult international competition. Most basketball fans are assuming Team USA should destroy the competition, but with a limited time to gel as a unit and injuries, international teams should feel optimistic to pull off the upset.
Spain failed to capture the gold against Team USA in Beijing in 2008, but they pose the biggest threat to America's gold medal chances. NBA veterans Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka will dominate the middle and should give them an advantage over every other team in the Olympic tournament. Pau Gasol, Rudy Fernandez and José Calderon round out the rest of the pros to give Spain a combination of speed and experience. By avoiding the Americans in group play, Spain shouldn’t have in trouble make it to the medal round. When they final collide with Team USA, the only advantage Spain will have is their inside presence. Without injured point guard Ricky Rubio and the lack of a true superstar, they will have to hope America gets cocky and overconfident in order to prevail.
Similar to Spain, Argentina is on the quest for revenge. In ’08, Argentina went 4-1 in group play but fell to America in the tournament round. Manu Ginobili led fellow NBA pros Carlos Delfino and Luís Scola on one of the most experienced teams in the tournament. Even though Argentina finds themselves in the same group as Team USA, they shouldn't feel intimidated as they defeated the United States in the 2004 Olympic Games. They may lack the number of pros compared to other top international teams, but their success in international competitions make Argentina a contender to win gold in London.