At first, we all thought Spain was the second best team and could challenge Team USA for the men’s basketball gold — well, that was before the 2016 Olympics got started. Yup, and this in spite Marc Gasol not making the team. But then, we also wondered what happened to Serge Ibaka?
Still, this seeding was basically because of Spain’s previous showings — that is being second in the last 2 Olympics and all. Yeah, without anyone really considering their ageing roster..
But now it has shown. More than Jose Calderon not really playing, the team has greatly deteriorated in firepower with Juan Carlos Navarro unable to provide that outside touch and Rudy Fernandez now losing a step or two in his game.
Okay, they still got 3 more games left; but the only team that they’d likely beat in their remaining games is Nigeria. Argentina, Lithuania? That is if those teams get lazy while they get lucky — what with Pau Gasol even missing crucial free throws?!
FRANCE. Uhm, with Tony Parker leading the anchor, seems like the French are in good hands. Problem is — it’s only Parker doing the damage. Boris Diaw can’t just talk about their team ball, it doesn’t show. They got to get Batum, Gelabale and Gobert more involved!
ARGENTINA. Yes, they’ve aged but if they could play controlled ball to save gas for their stars while executing well — and especially if Delfino could get back his shooting touch and Laprovittola is given more offensive plays — then they got a chance!
AUSTRALIA. As it is, the Aussies seem to have the best chance of upsetting the US — but they need more than just the shooting of Patty Mills who most likely would just get bottled up if they can’t execute or move the ball well — they need the toughness of Andrew Bogut and Matt Dellavedova round-the-clock as well as the inside presence of Aaron Baynes.
Lithuania. Their 2 wins were close, so you might as well say they were just lucky. Brazil. Without Splitter and Varejao, they lost big men who could pass well — that should have been a plus in team ball. Serbia and Croatia basically plays the same — though Croatia would be a tougher nut to crack if Saric, Bogdanovic and Mario Hezonja would click.
For any team to win against the US, they got to slow down the game. Move well without the ball. Minimize turnovers and control the boards. Defense? Just make it tough on the shooter and cover the passing lanes especially those lobs or near the basket forays.
Easier said than done? If so then you won’t win. Hey, defense has no day off! And in offense, you’re the one handling the ball — so all you need is a good system to bring home the bacon!