CineSport—Brazil kept the game close until the final quarter, but LeBron James and Team USA came away with an 80-69 victory. CineSport's Tara Petrolino and Terry Lyons of DigitalSportsDesk.com discuss.
Team USA is a powerhouse, there is no doubting that. Every player on the roster, except for rookie Anthony Davis, is a proven NBA star and even Davis has the potential to reach that mark. Indeed, USA is still the odds-on favorite to win yet another men’s basketball gold medal, but which opponents pose the biggest threat?
Silver medalists in Beijing in 2008, Spain has long been team USA’s biggest rival and that will be no different in London. While USA only has two centers on its roster, Tyson Chandler and Anthony Davis, this is Spain’s greatest strength.
Spain features two seven-footers in Marc and Pau Gasol, plus center Serge Ibaka, one of the NBA’s premier young big men. The trio will be able to provide low-post offense and stifling defense, not to mention the occasional jump shot from Pau and Ibaka.
This will also stretch the floor for their plethora of shooters, which include the Raptors’ Jose Calderon, former Trailblazer Rudy Fernandez and team captain Juan Carlos Navarro.
Looking to recapture gold as they did in Greece during the 2004 Olympics, Argentina is another tough team in the 2012 field. The team has good size (only two players shorter than 6’6”) which will help them fare well in international play.
Argentina features two dominant players that can score from anywhere on the court. Manu Ginobili scored 14.4 points per game with the Spurs last season and helped them grab the number one seed in the Western Conference. Luis Scola put up 15.5 points per game last year with the Rockets before getting picked up by the Suns in the offseason.
Andres Nocioni and Carlos Delfino are solid role players who are both excellent three-point shooters, especially for their size. Argentina has a nice mix of talent and experience as all four of the aforementioned players were part of the gold-medal run in Greece.
France hasn’t medaled since picking up the silver in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, but they have some promise heading into London. The team is led, both emotionally and from the point guard position, by Spurs star Tony Parker. Parker is one of, if not the best, player not on Team USA’s roster.
After Parker, France’s three best players are NBA veterans Ronny Turiaf of the Heat, Boris Diaw of the Spurs and Nicolas Batum of the Trailblazers. These three have all been starters in the NBA at some point in time and have experience at the international level.
Despite Team USA’s talent all over the court, they will have to deal with teams that have been together for a much longer time. LeBron James, Kevin Durant and company will have to improve on their performance against Brazil if they want to capture their second consecutive Olympic gold medal.