USA vs Spain Basketball: Matchups to Watch in Preview of Likely Gold Medal Game

Josh SchochAnalyst IIIJuly 23, 2012

July 22, 2012; Barcelona, SPAIN; USA forward LeBron James (6) drives to the basket during the first half of an exhibition game against Argentina in preparation for the 2012 London Olympic Games at Palau Sant Jordi.  Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-US PRESSWIRE

Let's face it—Team USA and Spain have the two best Olympic basketball teams in the world.

There are few countries who can even remotely challenge these two international powerhouses, as we will likely see them compete in the gold medal game during the 2012 London Games.

We'll first see the two face off in an exhibition game on July 24.

This will be the toughest task Team USA has faced thus far. After a narrow win against Argentina in their last exhibition game, the Americans will look to make a statement against their toughest foe.

When these two global giants face off, these are the matchups that will determine the game's final result.


Spanish Guards on Perimeter Shooters

While you can say that the American guards are much better than those of Spain, there's no denying that the Spanish play tough perimeter defense.

Just ask France.

The French have played against Spain twice recently, and they were shut down on July 10 and shot only 4-of-23 from three on July 18.

Threes have become a staple in the American offense—as the team averages 28.8 attempts per game, and their 43 made three-pointers account for 32.4 percent of the scoring.


The U.S. has become reliant on threes, but Spain's disruptive defense could pose problems for the Americans like it did to the French.


Can Spain Stop Team USA's Wings?

Sure, Spain might be able to stop American perimeter shooters, but can it also stop the small forwards on the team?

At 6'8" and 250 pounds of pure muscle, LeBron James is a matchup nightmare for anyone, and the Spanish don't have anyone who is big enough and quick enough to stop him.

What about Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala?

The Spanish might be able to push Durant around like LeBron did during the NBA Finals because he is skinny for his 6'9" frame, and Iguodala is not big enough to overpower the Spanish.

Essentially, this game might come down to whether LeBron drops 30 like he did against Brazil.


The Frontcourt

The weakest link in the American game is the frontcourt.

Tyson Chandler and Kevin Love are the lowest scoring players on the roster, while Anthony Davis is averaging 10.0 points per game. But Davis has only played in two games, and didn't play at all in Team USA's last exhibition against Argentina.


Unfortunately for Team USA, the frontcourt is the backbone of the Spanish team.

With two seven-footers in Marc and Pau Gasol—and the NBA's leading shot-blocker, Serge Ibaka, on its frontline—Spain has the best big men in the entire competition.

We know that the Spanish frontcourt is going to beat the U.S. frontcourt—just like the U.S.'s wings will top those of Spain. The question is how much will those mismatches influence the outcome of the game?



In Spain's last game, Marc Gasol did not play and Rudy Fernandez played sparingly. If the two play, they might not be at 100 percent—which is bad news since Ricky Rubio is already out with an injury.

If Spain had all of its players completely healthy, I think that it would beat this depleted U.S. team. But I believe Spain will rest up and take a loss here. The real question is: What happens in the gold medal game if the two meet up against each other?


Final Score: USA 84, Spain 81