USA, Russia, Spain, Argentina. Those are the four basketball teams remaining in the Olympics, and tomorrow's semifinals should give us two great games.
The question we're all asking now is who will win?
There are no clear-cut answers in this case. Take Team USA and Argentina for example.
By all rights Team USA should dominate this game. They've got a dozen of the world's best players compared to just one All-Star for Argentina. They've won a game in this very tournament by an astonishing 83 points. They've beaten Argentina twice in these games, once just a few weeks ago by 29 points.
Yet as an American fan I am absolutely terrified of Argentina. First of all, Argentina has actually beaten Team USA in Olympic play before. Remember the 2004 semifinal nightmare? Argentina does.
Manu Ginobili is still the most dangerous foreign player in this tournament. Luis Scola, Andres Nocioni and Carlos Delfino are all perfect role players for FIBA rules, and their chemistry as a team is far better than Team USA's.
Things are just as murky in the other game. Spain came into the Olympics as heavy favorites for the silver medal, but have since shown that they are very vulnerable.
Spain has the best front line in the entire field with the Gasol brothers and Serge Ibaka, but Russia managed to beat them in group play.
Now they meet again with a trip to the gold medal game on the line. Can Russia do it again when it really counts?
My guess is that they can't. Spain has been here before, Russia hasn't. They have more raw talent, and even if Andrei Kirilenko continues his incredible Olympic play they don't have the size to beat Spain.
As for Team USA vs. Argentina? I think Argentina gives the Americans all they can handle. The two titans wrestle the lead back-and-forth for four quarters before USA pulls out the victory when LeBron James, Kevin Durant or Kobe Bryant takes over.
So we may not be getting there in the way we expected, but a Team USA-Spain gold medal game seems like the likely outcome.
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