Team USA Basketball: Keys to Beating Argentina
When Team USA and Argentina met in their exhibition game on July 22, things did not go as planned for the Americans.
Even though they ended up winning the game, it was much closer than Team USA would have liked, as the final score showed a six-point victory.
After completely owning the first quarter 31-16, the Americans let Argentina back into the game with a 24-16 second quarter.
They were later outscored again in the fourth quarter of the game, something that doesn’t happen to Team USA very often.
Even though they lost, Argentina gained the necessary confidence to perhaps beat the Americans in the the Olympics.
Here are the five keys to Team USA defeating Argentina once again.
Team USA’s biggest weakness is their lack of size in the frontcourt.
Fortunately, Argentina doesn’t play with much size on the court either. Argentina only has one player who is over 6’9” in Martin Leiva, but he has only played a little under 12 minutes combined during the four games thus far.
This didn’t seem to matter during their first meeting though, as the United States only won the rebounding battle 41-38.
The USA has a distinct strength advantage over Argentina with Tyson Chandler, Kevin Love, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. These players need to own both the offensive and defensive glass to give the Americans a much bigger rebounding differential in order to secure an easier win.
Stay Out of Foul Trouble
In international basketball, players are only allowed five fouls per game, unlike in the NBA, where players are allowed up to six fouls before they are ejected.
Team USA primarily uses an eight-man rotation that consists of Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler.
During the exhibition game against Argentina, Bryant, Durant, Anthony and Chandler all picked up four fouls. Paul added three fouls as well.
This foul trouble significantly altered the Americans’ aggressive strategy, as they were forced to play a softer defense to avoid any ejections. Team USA is at their best when they are playing high-pressure defense and forcing turnovers that lead to easy baskets.
If Team USA can stay out of foul trouble and keep the intensity at a maximum on defense, they will be tough to beat.
Keep Manu Ginobili Out of the Paint
Manu Ginobili is by far Argentina’s best playmaker.
He is very capable of knocking down outside shots, but his specialty is getting into the paint and finishing at the rim.
During the Olympics thus far, Ginobili is shooting 53 percent from inside the arc. He has also been very successful getting fouled and getting to the free-throw line, where he's 19-of-19.
Team USA needs to keep Ginobili out of the paint and off the free-throw line in order to force him to toss up long jump shots.
The way they should do this is by putting a bigger, faster defender on him. Kobe Bryant is definitely capable and has a lot of experience guarding Ginobili, but if I’m coach Krzyzewski, I’m starting the game off with either LeBron James or Kevin Durant manning up on him.
Use Athleticism to Outrun Argentina
Argentina is such strong competition because they play very well together and are tough, gritty players.
Team USA can negate that by using their brute strength and athleticism to run them out of the gym.
No one on Argentina can keep up with players like Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and LeBron James on the open floor. Even Tyson Chandler and Anthony Davis will be very hard to stop, since they can both jump out of the gym.
Luis Scola, Argentina’s primary center, is only 6’9” and can’t really play above the rim like the Americans can.
If Team USA turns this game into a track meet instead of playing in the half court, it will be over very quickly.
Shoot the Way They Did Against Nigeria
Team USA put on a shooting clinic against Nigeria.
Entering the game, the record for most three-pointers made in a single game by an American team was 13, and the most points in a game by a single team in Olympic history was 138. The Americans shattered both of those records versus Nigeria by connecting on a ridiculous 29 threes and putting up 156 points.
The Americans shot 71 percent from the field during this game, even though they took more shots from distance than inside the arc.
Leading the charge was Carmelo Anthony, who hit 10 three-pointers on his way to setting the record for most points in a single game by a member of Team USA with 37.
Also adding to the party was Kevin Durant, who hit four, and Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love and Andre Iguodala, who each contributed with three.
If Team USA is shooting the ball the way they did against Nigeria, not only will they come out victorious versus Argentina, but they will win the game by 50 points.