Spain Olympic Basketball Team: Why Tough International Foes Are Overrated

Michael DulkaContributor IJuly 31, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 29:  Pau Gasol #4 of Spain looks for the ball against Zhizhi Wang #14 of China during their Men's Basketball Game on Day 2 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Basketball Arena on July 29, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

In the Men's Olympic basketball tournament, Spain has been touted as the biggest threat to beating Team USA. While Spain is likely the best of the rest among the teams in the tournament, they aren't good enough to beat Team USA. The level of threat to the United States has been overrated. 

The biggest reason given for why Spain will give Team USA a scare is the dominant size that Spain boasts down low. Pau Gasol and Marc Gasol clog the paint for the Spanish team and they won't lose any size when Serge Ibaka enters the game. 

While the size would seem to be a problem for the United States without depth beyond Tyson Chandler, the issue is overblown due to the versatility of the Team USA roster. Chandler is the only true center with Anthony Davis and Kevin Love providing depth.

Luckily for the United States, they won't need to rely on their big men in order to beat Spain.

In the NBA Finals, the Miami Heat used a lineup without a true center as Chris Bosh shifted to center and LeBron James played power forward. Oklahoma City isn't a huge team, but LeBron's size and ability allow him to successfully guard bigger players.

Team USA also has the 6'10" Kevin Durant who can use his size and ridiculous wingspan to guard Pau Gasol. Throughout the game, Team USA will be able to shift its defense and give Spain different looks down low.

While size down low is said to be a factor, Team USA is bigger than Spain elsewhere down the list of rosters. At small forward, Rudy Fernandez stands 6'6" while Durant is 6'10". At shooting guard, Juan Carlos Navarro stands 6'4" and Kobe Bryant is 6'6". Spain also has an advantage at point guard with Jose Calderon is 6'4" and Chris Paul is 6'0".

Spain definitely has some size advantages on the court, but they aren't as crucial as they have been made out to be. Team USA has to deal with Spain's size, but Spain has to deal with Team USA's athleticism, overall skill and depth.

Those are even bigger mismatches than the size factor. Spain's starting lineup definitely has NBA talent and experience, but beyond those five, there is a significant drop off for Spain. Team USA loses almost nothing when it subs players in and out.

Another reason Spain's chance of beating Team USA is overrated is the lack of their star point guard. In recent years in international play, Rubio caused fits for the United States and other countries with his rare mix of small stature and quickness. 

Rubio is capable of handling Team USA's ferocious pressure, but Jose Calderon isn't. If Spain were to actually beat the United States, Calderon would have to play a flawless game in terms of handling pressure, distributing the ball and taking advantage of scoring opportunities. 

Spain is a very good team. They shouldn't have much trouble with their group play games and getting to the gold medal game. Once they get there, they will face the same fate the other nations have, losing at the hand of Team USA.