USA vs. Spain: Key Matchups, Advantages and Disadvantages
The United States will face its toughest test when it meets its rival in Spain.
This will be the first meeting between the two teams since their last matchup in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In a nail biting victory, the United States pulled away from the Spanish National team and captured the gold medal.
Playing against the second ranked FIBA team in the world, the United States will face its most difficult opponent yet.
In the upcoming USA vs. Spain game, the Spanish National team will have a roster that has been playing together since the last Olympic games that were held in Beijing. Both the United States and Spain have five players that have played together in 2008 Beijing Olympics. The number would have increased to seven if point guard Ricky Rubio had not been recovering from an ACL injury and guard Rudy Fernandez who is recovering from a back surgery.
With Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, Juan Carlos Navarro, Jose Calderon and Felipe Reyes as the core group, Spain could put up a formidable fight against the United States, similar to the way that the Argentinean National team did. All of the players of Spain's core group, except for Felipe Reyes, have played in the NBA.
The United States has seven new additions to the its Olympic roster. In its previous exhibition games, fans have seen a lot of isolation basketball and quick and bad shots that have gotten Team USA in holes during games. The team will need to play more together in order to win its games with ease.
Advantage: United States
The United States has a multitude of players that can play different positions.
Having the best basketball player in the world, LeBron James, helps add to that cause. LeBron James is able to play in every position on the court, and this will help Coach Mike Krzyzewski. It also will give the United States more options and lineups to put on the floor.
Also, Kevin Durant may not be effective playing the backup center role during this game, but having him on the floor will cause a matchup problem for whoever Spain has to guard him. Having a 6'9" forward that plays like a shooting guard is always a perk.
Another factor that will play a difference is having Carmelo Anthony off of the bench. A strong forward such as Anthony will pound on the glass as well as bring scoring to Team USA.
Spain boasts three 7'0" players on its roster. With the two NBA All Stars on their frontline in Marc and Pau Gasol, the United States will have a tough time attempting to guard the brothers. With only one 7'0" player, Tyson Chandler, it will be up to the strength of LeBron James to fend off the other Gasol brother.
When James goes to the bench, Kevin Durant, who normally plays backup center, will not be effective defensively against Spain. The United States might have to let Kevin Love play for more minutes in order to defend the size of Spain.
In the USA vs. Spain game, the last 7'0" player that Spain has is Serge Ibaka, the reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year. Having such an athletic player as Ibaka could cause problems for the Untied States, which makes a living inside of the paint. With the size of Spain inside, the United States will have a difficult time getting easy baskets.
Advantage: United States
The United States wins this category with ease.
During the USA vs. Spain game, we will see the United States pushing the basketball and running in transition often. The United States scores in transition a lot. With the guards it has, including Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul, Team USA will force the opponents' guards to have a difficult time with the basketball, once they cross the half-court line.
With the ability to pickup steals and with its speedsters at the guard positions, Team USA willl quickly turn its defense into offense. The tempo will be set and the United States will get easy layups, dunks and alley-oops for the Lob City London team. With the bigger team being Spain, the quicker team hands down is Team USA.
5. Pressure/ Expectations
Advantage: United States
The United States puts more pressure on its team than the Spanish National team does. The reason that this is an advantage is because, with players such as Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Kevin Durant, these are players that are accustomed to being in big games and performing well in them. Now that the 1992 Dream Team comparisons are out the window, the United States has to fight and scrap in order to win tough games.
Against Brazil and Argentina in the exhibition tour, the United States was already tested enough to be ready for its biggest challenge yet. Facing the second-ranked team in FIBA in Spain is only the latest battle that the United States will have to face in order to capture their second straight gold medal. Team USA seems to win when the pressure is placed on them the most, and they bounced back well when they previously played in competitive games, something that Great Britain can account for.
*An interesting note is that Spain defeated Argentina by 20 points.
*Tune in to what should be a super competitive game between the USA and Spain.