Olympic Basketball 2012: Spain Is Still Threat to Team USA Despite Close Call
Spain's basketball squad survived a nail-biter against Great Britain Thursday night. The Spaniards held on 79-78, but it was far from their best showing.
If you were hoping for a Spain versus Team USA medal matchup in the future, this shouldn't worry you. Every team has a close call, and the Britons' brought their A-game to Thursday's contest.
Luol Deng and Joel Freeland combined for 51 points, and they outscored Spain by 11 points in the fourth quarter. Great Britain gave a 110 percent effort, and it still wasn't enough to knock off the talented Spanish squad.
A loss may have damaged Spain's psyche, at least a bit, but a narrow victory is nothing but another win. They are 3-0 now and still Team USA's most realistic threat for a gold medal.
In terms of pure talent, the American team is the best squad playing in London. No one would deny that, but they do have one weakness. Their frontcourt is thin and mostly unproven. They lack a true back-to-the-basket forward, and Spain is the team to exploit that.
The Gasol brothers and Serge Ibaka will give Team USA all kinds of problems. Not only is everyone familiar with each other, but the Spanish starters are more talented. Kevin Love is solid, but not a true power forward, Anthony Davis is ultra-talented, but still young, and Tyson Chandler is a defensive stopper with very little offense.
That means it's open season in the paint for Spain when they play the United States' squad. Team USA doesn't have an answer for Pau Gasol inside, and Ibaka's length will make it very difficult to earn any points in the paint.
Spain's backcourt isn't a pushover either. Jose Calderon is extremely quick and capable with the ball in his hands. Rudy Fernandez's nine-point, seven-assist performance against Great Britain was a major reason they won that game in the first place.
No one has Team USA's athleticism, star power or prodigious hype, but that doesn't mean they can't be beat. As good as they are, the American squad can be a bit one-dimensional. They have a plethora of elite guards and scoring wings, but their one major hole happens to matchup with Spain's biggest strength.
This is the matchup everyone wants to see in London. Spain and Team USA are the two most-talented teams, and they each possess the others' kryptonite.
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