When Team USA and Spain butt heads in an exhibition game before the Olympics begin, the key to the game will be the play of American center Tyson Chandler.
The Spanish will try to utilize their size inside to bully the Americans and control the paint like they did against France, and Chandler must stop them from doing so.
With two seven footers on their roster in Marc and Pau Gasol and NBA shot-blocking leader Serge Ibaka inside, the Spanish National team has the best frontcourt in the world. They've used it to their advantage before, out-rebounding France 46-26 even without Marc Gasol in an exhibition game on July 15.
Spain could very well do that to the U.S. too if Chandler doesn't step it up.
The only seven-footer on the American roster, Chandler has not been living up to expectations. He is currently dead-last on the team in points per game with 2.5, and is only averaging 3.8 per game (courtesy USAbasketball.com).
Chandler has done little for the team, and with Anthony Davis only playing two of the four games and Kevin Love struggling at power forward, the American frontcourt has been having some serious problems.
The only true center on the American roster has been a non-factor thus far, doing very little in the first four exhibitions games. He needs to fix that in this last game so that he can be ready when the team goes to London for the actual Games.
This will be the toughest test he has faced, but he must find a way to stop the Spanish bigs from dominating the post. If he can't stop them on defense or he can't find a way to be a factor on the offensive end then the Americans are in serious trouble.
If the New York Knicks' big man doesn't improve his play to a competent level for a seven-footer against Spain the U.S. will enter the Olympic at 4-1 in exhibition play instead of 5-0.