Well..looks like team USA dropped the ball on their Dream Team revelations on Saturday. After narrowly escaping an upset by Team Lithuania, it appears the once demigod reveled basketball squad is more than mortal after all.
It’s now apparent that the remaining road to gold in London won’t be a cakewalk for Team USA. The competition will only get tougher and with a feisty Argentina squad led by Manu Ginobili of the San Antonio Spurs, and forward Luis Scola of the Phoenix Suns, the Dream Team has its work cut out for it.
The Argentines infamously upset the Americans in their gold medal run at the 2004 games in Athens, and with much of the roster from that team still in place for Argentina, they’ll look to do the same in London.
Ginobili gives Argentina a legitimate star with bona fide NBA talent to compete with the Americans. Known as a left-handed pick-and-roll specialist, Ginobili is well suited to the international game. His ability to distribute and make finesse runs through the lane makes him one of the most valuable players in this tournament.
Scola, on the other hand will provide some punch down low. He can be a dangerous scorer from the post when he gets rolling, and like Ginobili, is very dexterous with his left hand. As with most international players, Scola has a solid mid-range jumper and gives Argentina an above average catch and shoot threat.
However, Argentina's size will limit them against Team USA. Scola is a bit undersized at six-foot-nine and the team’s starting center Juan Pedro Guiterrez stands at the same height. While team USA's current roster might be lacking in size with injuries to Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh and Blake Griffin, a front court led by Tyson Chandler should be enough to compete with the Argentines in the post.
Kobe Bryant will draw the defensive assignment of Ginobili and has plenty of experience defending the Argentine superstar. While Ginobili shot an exceptional 50 percent from the field against the Bryant-led- Lakers this season, the familiarity of Ginobili’s game, as well as the drop off of talent playing with Argentina, should play into Bryant’s favor.
Team USA should rely on their forwards, particularly Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony, for most of their scoring. Andres Nocioni of Argentina, though once a superb inside-out defender, has seen his foot speed decline with age and doesn’t have the quickness to keep up with guys on the perimeter. The Americans should utilize screens to get Durant and Anthony open mid-range shots—bread and butter scoring opportunities for the two NBA superstars.
While the Americans definitely have the upper hand in this contest, never write off this experienced Argentina team. They are well seasoned in international ball and have plenty of experience playing with each other.
Team USA picked an interesting time to show their vulnerability, as Argentina will be their toughest test in London thus far.