This is personal.
Who's the team to beat in London?
When Team USA faces off against Spain on Tuesday, it’ll likely be a preview of the 2012 Olympic basketball gold medal game. Sure, it’s just an exhibition, but don’t expect an alley-oop fest from the U.S. Because their opponent is so talented and so familiar to them, anything other than a win will be a major disappointment for the Americans.
Team USA has two weaknesses: Chemistry and length.
Usually they only enter the Olympics with one. Every All-Star teams struggles with chemistry issues. But injuries to Dwight Howard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Chris Bosh and Blake Griffin created a problem to their frontcourt depth that they aren't used to having.
Why is Spain so dangerous to the U.S.’s quest for back-to-back gold medals? The Americans’ weaknesses are the Spanish's strengths.
Greg Bishop of the New York Times reported that international basketball analyst Jonathan Givony raved about Spain’s unique chemistry for a national team, as well as their length. Givony said:
This chemistry they built is what makes them so dangerous in a setting like the Olympics where most of the teams are just thrown together a month or so in advance. Their frontcourt is clearly the best at the Olympics, which could give the U.S. major problems.
In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, America boasted the most talented squad they had sent to the competition since the 1992 Dream Team. Despite that fact, they failed to manhandle Spain like they did every other country. Team USA won in the gold medal game, but only by the score of 118-107.
This year’s U.S. club is less talented than the Redeem Team. And while the Spanish are without Ricky Rubio, Marc Gasol has greatly improved since 2008, and they also didn’t have Serge Ibaka back then.
The Americans can’t coast. They must impose their will on Spain to set the tone for when they meet again.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.