It’s going to be a Spanish-American war all over again, and it’s going to happen right on the very first day of the knockout stages. Will Spain take out Team USA? Or, will the Americans march to the semifinals by defeating their nemesis?
Catch this game live on August 3 at 12:40 pm, Manila time.
The Team USA (2-1 in group stages)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Jrue Holiday
- SG: Damian Lillard
- SF: Devin Booker
- PF: Kevin Durant
- C: Bam Adebayo
Team USA has completely recovered from its surprising 83-76 loss to Evan Fournier and Le Bleus in both teams’ opener. Following that defeat, the Americans blasted Iran (120-66) and took down the Czech Republic (119-84) in Group A play to advance to the knockout stages of the tournament, where they will face a rival in the form of Spain.
The Iran game was an easy one for Team USA, and the Americans used that contest to recapture their confidence. Against the Czech Republic, Team USA flexed its muscle in terms of talent and most especially, depth. Team USA’s bench scored 66 points in that game compared to just 25 by the Czech Republic’s backups.
Jayson Tatum came off the bench and led the way for Team USA with his 27 points, while Kevin Durant started and dropped 25 and in the process, became Team USA’s all-time leading scorer in the Olympics. Spain has a stacked roster but its bench likely would struggle to keep up with Team USA’s reserves.
Only one player on Spain is scoring more than 10 points per game thus far and that’s Ricky Rubio. That speaks volumes about the lack of firepower that the Spanish Armada is showing of late.
Spain (2-1 in group stages)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Ricky Rubio
- SG: Victor Claver
- SF: Rudy Fernandez
- PF: Alberto Abalde
- C: Marc Gasol
Spain was expected by many to go undefeated in Group C play, but Luka Doncic and the Slovenians had other plans, as they came back from a 12-point third quarter deficit to deal the Spaniards a 95-87 loss last Sunday. The good thing for Spain is that it’s going to the knockout stages, albeit with a tough assignment this Tuesday against the No. 1 team in the world.
As mentioned earlier, Ricky Rubio is leading the attack for Spain. He is pacing his team in both points (21.3) and assists (7.3) per game, but against Team USA, he’s going to need a ton of help from the others. After Rubio, Victor Claver is the next top score for Spain, and he is only averaging 8.7 points per contest.
Guys like Sergio Llull and Sergio Rodriguez have to step up offensively, while Paul Gasol, Marc Gasol, and Willy Hernangomez have to provide solid contributions in the paint against a relatively thin Team USA frontcourt.
This could be Pau’s last hurrah in the Olympics, so expect him to muster everything he can to upset Team USA one more time. He had 23 points in Spain’s 82-76 loss to Team USA in the semifinals of the 2016 Rio Olympics men’s basketball tournament.
Spread: This should be Team USA’s toughest test to date in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Although Spain lost to Slovenia, it’s still a huge threat, and if anything, that defeat could have given them extra fuel. Take Spain to cover (+12.0)
Over/Under: This could have the pace of the game between France and Team USA. I’m taking the Under (179.5).