The first quarter of the second game of pool play action between the United States and the Tunisian Men’s Basketball teams had the makings of a “Rocky” type moment. The Tunisian’s were playing hard and keeping the game close with smart play midway through the first quarter. After a full five man substitution, the US bench came in and much like they did against France, were able to overwhelm their opponent with depth and talent.
Now the real question is, is there a team in the Olympics that can beat the US or even give them a legitimate challenge.
Kevin Durant currently leads the squad averaging 17.5 ppg and 9.5 rpg through the first two games but it’s the effort of the star studded cast that makes them look like a “dream” team. Let me clarify that last statement by saying that in my opinion this team would lose to the real Dream Team and the game wouldn’t even be close.
The US Men will take on Nigeria, Lithuania and Argentina in that order to complete their pool play. I think they will handle Nigeria easily more so than any other game thus far and come out of the gate quick while hitting them early and often with fast break baskets. Lithuania does not possess the overall talent to compete with the US for a 40 minute Olympic game. Now that brings us to Argentina who only lost by six to the US in exhibition play less than two weeks ago.
Argentina starts five NBA players in Pablo Prigioni, Manu Ginobili, Carlos Delfino, Andres Nocioni and Luis Scola. The problem is that they don’t have the depth and size. Their heart and chemistry can only take them so far against a team as loaded with talent as the US. I don’t think any of these teams can provide a true challenge.
Now we get to the two teams that I think can challenge the United States, Russia and Spain. If the US meets either one of these teams in the elimination rounds expect a great game because these teams can really play.
Spain lacks the defensive prowess but can throw talented big men who unlike any other country are just as talented as the US bigs. Spain did not use Marc Gasol and the All Star center could be a huge difference maker in a possible matchup with the US.
Russia has also looked very good in the tournament thus far led by the resurgent Andrei Kirilenko who looks to be back into NBA All-Star form and Alexey Schved who’s leading the tournament with 9.5 apg.
Those two must have the Timberwolves smiling from ear to ear as they both look like they will be big impact players for Minnesota this season. Russia is a long and athletic team unlike any other team the US could see in this tournament.
At the end of the day, yes Russia and Spain can provide problems for the US but nobody can beat them. They will bring home the Gold to the greatest (basketball) country in the world, and rightfully so. Some argue that if Spain had Rubio, if Tony Parker was in better shape or if Argentina was younger they could win it all. The real argument is that if the US had Dwight Howard and/or Andrew Bynum, would they be the best Olympic team of all time? Now that’s truly debatable.