With just under an hour away from tip-off, Argentina has one thing on their mind “don’t lose to USA for the third straight time in under a month.” Yes, Argentina has already played the United States two times in the past weeks. One game was a tight game during a pre-Olympic exhibition game in Barcelona, and the other game was the game before the quarterfinals of the 2012 London Olympics began in which USA dominated Argentina.
I won’t dive into the stats or anything that happened in the pre-Olympic game mainly because neither team really had something to fight for. Today, however, there is, a spot in the gold medal game against Spain. USA certainly wants to be in that same position they were again in 2008, but Argentina is seeking for possibly the biggest upset in Olympic basketball history. After facing the United States two times in a span of weeks, Argentina must somehow know already how to at least keep the United States to a minimum. I can’t say totally stop them because that’s basically impossible, but just keeping the game close and executing down the stretch will be the biggest key for Argentina.
In Argentina’s quarterfinal victory over a tough Brazil team, they had balanced attack that led with 5 players scoring in double figures and all of their NBA players contributing. Manu Ginobili of the San Antonio Spurs had 14 points and 8 rebounds. Phoenix Suns forward Luis Scola led the way in scoring with 17 points. Former NBA forward Andres Nocioni chipped in with 14 points and 6 rebounds. NBA free agent Carlos Delfino had 16 points and 7 rebounds. Off the bench big man Juan Gutierrez had 11 points. This amount of activity is one thing Argentina must bring in their game against the United States.
In their 29 point lost to USA during pool play, almost the same players scored in double figures but it was one thing that caused the United States to run them out. Poor defense. Argentina wasn’t able to contain the three pointers Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony threw at them and weren’t able to stop LeBron James from making them look like high schoolers going up against NBA athletes. Defense will be the second biggest key for Argentina in my opinion. If they can score, that’s great because we know the game will be tight, but defense will be the second most important thing for them for them to be able to prevent the United States from performing a blowout.
For the United States, it seems as if there is always a different star every night. In their quarterfinal match against Australia, it was Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant who led the way with his 20 points. NBA League MVP LeBron James of the Miami Heat also had a marvelous triple-double with 11 points 12 assists and 14 rebounds in the victory.Those numbers are definitely stats Argentina doesn’t want to see and must not let that happen. Double teams and quick rotations will be big for Argentina going up against the United States. Team USA loves to move the ball a lot and they do it very quickly much like Argentina themselves.
Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love has been spectacular thus far in the Olympics with his contribution off the bench and subbing Tyson Chandler at the center position. In the quarterfinal game, Love recorded a double double. Although it wasn’t the same kind of double double we normally see from him in the NBA, it was still good enough for them to pull off the big victory.
Simply, Argentina must play their best basketball they have ever had. Play the same way they did in 2004 when they shocked the world by eliminating the United States in the semi-finals. Although this is not the same team, but the idea that their country defeated USA before still lingers in them which in the end could propel them to a victory. Perfect basketball is all what they need to do to defeat USA. They don’t necessarily have any advantage over them aside from a little bit more length but Argentina is no Spain, so they’ll just have to do a little bit more. Good luck Argentina.
My prediction: United States wins.