One of the biggest concerns for Team USA in its preparation for the 2012 London Olympics is whether it can handle the size of Spain's Gasol brothers.
NBA All-Stars Marc and Pau Gasol will team with shot-blocking sensation Serge Ibaka to form a formidable paint presence for Spain. Team USA will have to play its absolute best and execute a few key tactics to compensate for its size disadvantage.
The Americans' exhibition performances, especially their close wins over Brazil and Argentina, have proven that post play is not the team's strength.
Although Mike Krzyzewski is out-manned at center with Tyson Chandler and Anthony Davis, there are concrete ways for him to neutralize the Spanish towers.
The first way to combat the size and offensive prowess of the Gasol brothers is to utilize the world's best perimeter defense.
USA's guard play is vastly superior to Spain's (and every other country), so they must put excessive pressure on Spanish guards Jose Calderon and Juan Carlos Navarro. Turnovers, rushed passes and disjointed offense will inhibit the Gasols' involvement and effectiveness.
In its exhibitions, the American backcourt has relentlessly hounded opponents, forcing 88 turnovers in just four games. They might not get 25 against Spain, but anywhere from 15-20 would help control how much the Gasols see the ball.
When the ball does get to Pau and Marc on the block, Team USA will inevitably give up some damage. The key for Chandler, Davis, Kevin Love and LeBron James is to maintain positioning, limit second-chance points and avoid petty fouls.
Offensively, the Americans must push the ball, as the Gasols are not fleet-footed.
In the half-court setting, USA needs to keep spreading the floor like they've done throughout the exhibitions. If both Gasols are on the court at the same time, at least one of them will be forced to step out and chase the athletically-superior American forwards.
It's important, however, for Team USA to not fall in love with perimeter play just because Spain is strong inside. They still need to attack the basket and use their athleticism to score and draw fouls. In Sunday's 86-80 win over Argentina, USA settled for too many outside shots.
Coach K and company will get a pre-Olympic dose of the Gasols in Tuesday night's exhibition in Barcelona, where they will see only a glimpse of the Spanish squad's game plan.
Marc and Pau Gasol are extremely skilled post players who will give Team USA trouble, but there are tools and a game plan that the Americans can use to counteract the Spanish duo.
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