Team USA looks to remain on top in the 2012 London Olympics as they face the newcomers to the Olympic Games, Tunisia. Led by Kevin Durant and LeBron James, Team USA ran away with an easy victory against France (98-71) in their first Olympic game in 2012 after a tight first quarter.
Tunisia lost its first game in the London Olympics to Nigeria 60-56, after a late game rally came a little too late. Tunisia is one of the rare Olympic basketball teams to not feature any active NBA players on their roster.
Team USA is expected to beat Tunisia in a blowout fashion, so let’s look at how these opponents stack up against each other.
Frontcourt: Forward Amine Rzig not only led Tunisia’s bench with 18 points on 77.8 percent shooting against Nigeria, but he also led all scores for that game. Ben Romdhane posted 12 points, two steals and 12 rebounds on 42.3 percent shooting. Romdhane committed seven of Tunisia’s 19 turnovers against Nigeria, which should be a focus point for Team USA to take advantage of. Radhouane Slimane struggled against Nigeria where he put up no points on 0-3 shooting, and only recorded two rebounds in his total of eight minutes on the floor. Tunisia’s center Salah Mejri also struggled with only two points on 1-8 shooting, but earned three blocks and three assists against Nigeria. Mejri was limited due to foul trouble. Team USA should not have a problem with Tunisia’s frontcourt as USA is not undersized in this match.
Backcourt: Marouan Kechrid played 40 minutes on Sunday against Nigeria, where he contributed 12 points, three assists, four rebounds and four turnovers on 36.4 percent shooting. Nizar Knioua had a rather disappointing London Olympics debut on Sunday when he failed to put up any points, and only recorded one assist and committed two turnovers in 16 minutes of action. Expect Team USA’s backcourt (Bryant, Paul, Williams, Westbrook) to dominate the backcourt defensively and offensively throughout the game against Tunisia.
Keys to Victory:
Share the Ball- Team USA needs to adjust to playing the international basketball style of play earlier in their match-ups. During Sunday’s game against France, Team USA fouled their opponents way too much in the first quarter, which dramatically slowed down the pace of the game.
Once Team USA adjusted to the calls and started to make the extra pass on offense, they simply controlled the game. Team USA has some of the best playmakers in the NBA on its roster, including Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. In Sunday’s game, Team USA earned 27 assists, with LeBron James contributing eight of those assists. Sharing the ball and making the extra pass, creates easy opportunities for USA to capitalize on since the defense will be a step behind.
Win the Rebound Battle – Winning the rebound battle is essential for Team USA to do in every game. It is important because, as we all know, the USA roster is smaller this time around. Therefore, it is important for Team USA to control the boards to limit the other team’s opportunities for easy, second chance points. Against France, USA out-rebounded the French 56-40, including 18 offensive rebounds.
Cleaning up the boards is also important for the USA’s transition game. Grabbing boards, getting out on the break and using Team USA’s massive advantage in athleticism is crucial for the offensive game. If Team USA is able to continue to do this throughout the game, especially early on, Tunisia simply won’t be able to keep up.
Tunisia (0-1) vs. USA (1-0)
2:15 PM PST, July 31, 2012
Olympic Park, Basketball Arena, London, England
TV: NBC Sports Channel
Tunisia Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Marouan Kechrid
SG: Nizar Knioua
SF: Makram Ben Romdhane
PF: Radhouane Slimane
C: Salah Mejri
Key Reserves: F Amine Rzig