The world just got a preview of what could possibly be the gold medal game of the 2012 London Olympic men’s basketball tournament. In this preview, Team USA won in classic Team USA fashion. Knowing that Spain is the team that they are highly expected to face on their last step to the gold medal, Team USA saw this as an opportunity to send a message to Spain and to other teams competing in the games. Playing in a hostile arena in (Barcelona, Spain) filled by a solid amount of Spanish fans, USA smoothly dispatched Spain 100-78.
There were multiple questions and criticisms thrown at Team USA before the game tip-off. Among all criticisms, the biggest problem was the big man problem. Going up against a tall Spanish team, Team USA looked like they were at a disadvantage. However, there were things Team USA could do that would cover up their flaws. Moreover, Team USA adjusted very well and instead of having just one man (Chandler/Love) try to grab the rebound, they swarmed. Defensively as well they swarmed. And after they did that and forced Spain to commit turnovers and snag the rebounds, Team USA was off and running. Nothing could stop them. Not Spain. If Team USA would play the same way they did today, no team in the world can prevent them from winning the gold medal.
Yesterday, Team USA was in full control of the game through the last three quarters. At the end of the first quarter it seemed as if this would turn out to be a classic international basketball game much like USA vs Spain during the gold medal game in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. However, unlike that game, Team USA dominated the rest of the game. Spain, who is already without Minnesota Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio who is still going through rehab on his knee, didn’t have center Marc Gasol for the game due an injury he is still aiding. Fortunately for Spain, Marc will be back in time for the real games. So all in all, Team USA faced a not so lengthy Spanish club.
At the end of the first quarter, Team USA was down 21-23. From there, Team USA adjusted to Spain’s style of play and from there it became Team USA’s basketball game.
With Spain being shorthanded, Team USA finally took control of the boards by out rebounding Spain 37-26. Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star Kevin Love had his first double digit rebounding game. Unfortunately he only had 2 points which prevented him from having a classic K-Love double-double. Yesterday, Team USA was led by their forwards. New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony had a game-high 27 points coming off the bench, Miami Heat forward LeBron James had 25 points along with 7 assists, and Oklahoma City Thunder Kevin Durant chipped in with 13 points on a 2-3 shooting from distance.
In this game, Team USA reduced their three point shooting from 34 attempts in their first Barcelona exhibition game against Argentina to just 23 attempts yesterday against #2 ranked Spain. Team USA overall shot 56% from distance.
Outside the forwards, Los Angeles guards Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul had 6 points and 5 points respectively. Unlike their match against Argentina, Team USA was able to play everyone on their roster. Off the bench, Russell Westbrook had 9 points, Deron Williams had 4 points, and James Harden had 7 points.
For Spain, they also had three players finish in double figures. Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol led the way with a team-high 19 points and pulled down 5 rebounds as well. Spain’s newest member, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka, had 16 points along with a block. Point guard and captain, Juan Carlos Navarro chipped in with 11 points but had 6 turnovers to along with his subpar 2 assists.
Team USA finished their exhibition games with a clean slate winning all 5 of their pre-Olympic games. The quest for the gold medal officially begin on July 29, 2 days after the opening of the 2012 London Olymics, where Team USA will be taking on Tony Parker and France.
In my opinion, Team USA is more than ready. They haven’t utilized all their players to their full potential as member of the team, not as individuals (just to be clear). Kevin Love is highly expected by the coaching staff and also the American fans to be a force inside on the boards very much like how he played in the 2011-2012 NBA season when he averaged 13.3 rebounds per game. Team USA may be unbeaten in through the exhibition games, but in my eyes, they’re still beatable. It will be very tough, however, to beat them. Especially with the way they played yesterday. But then again, Spain was incomplete and there was no gold-medal slash sweet revenge on the line.