USA vs. Argentina: American Squad Will Struggle for Victory in Group A Finale

Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistAugust 6, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 02:  Manu Ginobili #5 of Argentina drives against Tunisia in the first half during the Men's Basketball Preliminary Round match on Day 6 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Basketball Arena on August 2, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Team USA limped its way to a 99-94 victory over Lithuania on Saturday, and Monday's matchup with Argentina will have a similar outcome.

It could be even closer. Argentina has a ton of NBA experience on its roster, and it has the weapons to exploit Team USA's weaknesses. This creates a very intriguing matchup in the finale of Group A play.

Argentina's backcourt includes Manu Ginobili and Carlos Delfino. Delfino isn't a versatile player, but his height gives him an ideal release point from beyond the three-point arc. Ginobili is very familiar with every face on Team USA's roster, and that experience only adds to his obvious talent.

Team USA still holds the advantage in the backcourt, but it won't be able to run rampant. Delfino and Ginobili are both veterans, and both players understand how to play the international game. In fact, Ginobili is one of the purest scorers this tournament has to offer.

The interior of Argentina's team is also interesting, especially when you consider Team USA's answer up front. If the Americans have a weakness, it lies here.

Luis Scola commands a ton of attention on the low block. He's a well-rounded offensive player and scored 20 points against Tunisia in their last tilt. NBA fans should be familiar with Scola's underrated repertoire and should know better than to take him lightly down low.

The same goes for Andres Nocioni. Nocioni isn't as good as Scola, but he's been around long enough that he knows how to play the game. He's a dangerous face-up shooter and he will pull American big men away from the basket. This part of his game works well with Scola's back-to-the-basket mentality.

We knew Argentina would contend for a medal before London's games began, and it hasn't disappointed. Team USA has looked sharp so far, but their team is flawed.

Argentina will make the gold-medal favorites pay if the U.S. relies too much on its perimeter shots, plays poor defense or doesn't have the bodies to bang down low. Team USA dealt with all of these issues against Lithuania, and it's up to the American players to correct them.

Expect Team USA to win, but this is going to be close. It's better that this team is tested now, before they enter bracket play, and it will provide an accurate barometer to where the team truly stands.