The countdown to this summer's Olympics is on, with the official release for the men's basketball draw signaling how close the Rio Games are.
According to the official Rio 2016 Twitter account, the defending champion United States team will be in Group A, while world powerhouses Spain, Argentina and Lithuania will start in Group B:
Team USA will be the focus of attention in Rio, having won gold at each of the last two Olympics and back-to-back FIBA World Cup titles in 2010 and 2014, but Group B is more intriguing.
According to the official FIBA world rankings, Spain, Lithuania and Argentina are currently ranked second, third and fourth behind the United States.
By comparison, Australia is the second-best team in Group A based on the world rankings at No. 11. China is at No. 14, and Venezuela is at No. 22.
Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports does not foresee any problems for the United States in the group stage based on the draw:
Marc J. Spears @MarcJSpearsESPN
Easy preliminary road for @usabasketball at #Rio2016 https://t.co/lYv21MjoyT2016-3-11 16:58:57
There are still three qualifying teams to be determined, two in Group A and one in Group B, at the Olympic qualifying tournaments from July 4-10.
While the final roster for the U.S. team has not been determined, USA basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo told Michael Lee of The Vertical he's in an excellent position with this year's team: "I call it a high-class problem to have too many people who want to participate. Because we have 31 names, really, you can take two or three hits from guys who it might not be in their best interest, and it's going to be OK."
Given how easy Team USA's path looks in Group A, the possibility of a letdown later feels high because those other top teams will have to be on point every single night as they try to knock each other out.
Basketball at the Olympics has been dominated by the U.S. for the last eight years, but a strong field around the Americans this time will make for an interesting showcase in Rio.