For the past two major international basketball tournaments, the United States of America has walked away as the best in the sport. The ‘Redeem Team’ took home the Gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Summer Games and USA also won the top prize in the 2010 FIBA World Championships. Team USA will be looking to win another Gold in the Olympics this summer, but their opponents have doubt the Americans will win it all.
Although USA has lost some superstar players like Dwight Howard and Derrick Rose, they are still ranked as the best team in the world. Still, the Americans struggled in their exhibition match against Argentina and many people are beginning to believe that this squad may not be able to reach the Gold Medal match.
Argentina’s Andres Nocioni almost beat the almighty USA team and after the game he told reporters that the America squad isn’t invisible after all.
“The U.S. team will have to work very hard for the gold medal and I’m not so sure they will get it.”
Kobe Bryant scored 18 points in the 86-80 win over Argentina, but it was the rest of the players that did not follow suit. Kevin Durant led the way with 27 points, but there were many times in the game when the USA players relied too much on isolation play.
This will likely be Bryant’s last time playing the coveted Summer Games, so you can be sure he will do whatever it takes it win gold. Bryant has been the veteran leader in the past two Olympics and he will likely take most of the blame if USA cannot come out on top. Still, there is reason to believe that Team USA will make the necessary adjustments for the next time they play Argentina. USA could have easily won the game by double-digits and there is a strong chance their level of intensity will be much higher if they meet Argentina again.
However, before Argentina (ranked third in the world) eyes America, they must also get passed the second best team in the Olympics, Spain. Many consider Spain as the biggest hurdle standing in USA’s way, and the two countries will likely meet in the Gold Medal match. Spain is loaded with talented players and the majority of them are currently playing in the NBA. Pau Gasol faced Kobe and USA in the final match in the 2008 Olympics and the best bet would be that they will cross paths in the same stage in 2012.