After winning their first Olympic test against France, Team USA is set to play their next game against the Tunisia men’s basketball team. The Americans handled a French roster that is loaded with current NBA players, which is a good sign heading forward into competition.
Meanwhile, Tunisia is coming off of a narrow 60-56 loss to Nigeria, who features current and former NBA players Al-Farouq Aminu and Ike Diogu. Tunisia was trailing by double digits for most of the first half, but they showed resilience and nearly stole the match until falling just short at the end of regulation.
In all honesty, the matchup between the United States and Tunisia should result in a blowout victory for the Americans. The talent disparity might be the greatest of any two teams in the group, as Tunisia lacks a single NBA player on their roster.
Meanwhile, Team USA features three of the best players in the world in LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant. All but one player, Anthony Davis, is a former or current NBA All-Star, and four players on the roster just competed in the 2012 NBA Finals.
With that being said, Tunisia does feature players who could exploit the only key weakness displayed by this basketball juggernaut: a lackluster post defense. Team USA has center Tyson Chandler on the roster, but the only remaining frontcourt contributors are Davis and Kevin Love. Davis has yet to play a minute in the NBA, while Love has never been mistaken for an average defender in the paint.
The Tunisia team won the African championships because of its great size. They feature eight players who stand 6’8” or taller, including 7’1” center Salah Mejri. He has the size to match up with Chandler, who is the reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year.
Will Tunisia pose a challenge to Team USA?
The other seven players at that height like to slow down the pace of the game and attack the rim. They could present a matchup problem for Team USA if Chandler gets in foul trouble early on. It would be up to Anthony Davis to play lock down post defense and protect the rim. Granted, he did set an NCAA record for blocks by a freshman, so he is not exactly lacking skill in that department.
Even with their size advantage, they still do not have a player who can match up with LeBron James or Kevin Durant, each of whom stand 6’8” or taller and are versatile scoring machines from anywhere on the floor.
Tunisia is led by forward Amine Rzig, who scored 18 points in the team’s loss to Nigeria. He is capable of getting hot and scoring in bunches, so the Americans will have to keep up their stellar perimeter defense.
That is actually the key strength of this American squad, as they feature the best set of guards in the world. Led by All-NBA performers Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Russell Westbrook at the point and Kobe Bryant and James Harden at shooting guard, their backcourt completely outclasses all others in terms of size, shooting, basketball IQ, court vision, unselfishness, perimeter defense and finishing at the rim.
The guard play is the main reason why Team USA scores so many points. They have capable scorers all over the court and feature excellent depth at each backcourt position. Then add in the all-around games of Durant, James and Anthony, and the American roster becomes an offensive juggernaut and a matchup nightmare in transition.
In the end, it does not appear that Tunisia has enough offensive firepower to keep up with the American team. Both squads share a common exhibition opponent in Great Britain. Tunisia narrowly defeated them 73-69, while Team USA routed the British 118-78.
This score disparity is a simple indicator of the type of offensive ammo that the Americans have on the roster. Although Tunisia does have a size advantage in this matchup, they lack the quality big men that Team USA features. Meanwhile, Tunisia only has four guards on their roster and again lacks the talent and skill level of the excellent guards for the Americans.
Therefore, the matchup between America and Tunisia will end up in a blowout victory for the United States. This team is driven to win the gold medal and will use their incredible depth and skill at the guard and forward position to overwhelm the African champions.