Skip to content

Team USA Rolls Into Second Week of Competition, Face Toughest Opponent Yet Today

Aug 6, 2012, 10:25 AM EDT

With a victory today, the team will finish the first round with a Group A-best 5-0 record, and a chance to play the fourth-place team from Group B in the Quarterfinal round on Wednesday, likely to be Team Australia.

It’s been an up-and-down tournament for Team USA basketball in London
so far, but the unequivocally good news is that the team is still
undefeated going into their last contest of the preliminary round, today
against Argentina. With a victory, the team will finish the first
round with a Group A-best 5-0 record, and a chance to play the
fourth-place team from Group B in the Quarterfinal round on Wednesday,
likely to be Team Australia.

Argentina will be no easy out for Team USA, however. The Argentinian
squad is 3-1 in play thusfar, tied with France for the second-best
record in Group A behind the States, and has a number of pros and
pro-caliber players—most notably Spurs two-time All-Star guard Manu
Ginobili, as well as Suns power forward Luis Scola and our old friend,
small forward Andres Nocioni. (You remember how that guy actually
started a game for the Sixers last year? Whatta season we had.) By most
estimations, this’ll be the toughest opponent the U.S. will face in the
first round.

Of course, the team already does have one very legitimate scare
behind them, as the guys just narrowly avoided defeat Saturday morning
in their game against Lithuania. A lax defensive effort on the part of
Team USA, and perhaps an over-reliance on the three-pointer on offense,
saw a Linas Kleiza-led Lithuanian team push the U.S. for all 48 minutes,
until a couple nice plays by LeBron James, and some big shots by Chris
Paul and Deron Williams, bailed them out in the final stretch for a
99-94 victory. For all the Dream Team comparisons, the ’92 squad does
now have one real bragging point over this 2012 team: The Dream Team
never won by less than 32 points throughout their run.

Then again, the Dream Team also never scored 156 points in a
40-minute regulation game, as the 2012 Team did on Thursday against
Nigeria in their 82-point victory. The team set Olympic records for most
points scored in a game and largest point differential in a victory,
and Carmelo Anthony set team USA records for most points scored in an
Olympic game with his 37 and most 3′s hit in a game with ten—in just 14
minutes of playing time, no less. Even our Andre Iguodala got in on the
scoring, connecting on all three of his attempts from deep—just a
fraction of the unthinkable 29 treys the team hit over the course of the
40-minute game. (The NBA record for a single game is just 23.)

Iguodala hasn’t had a ton to do with Team USA’s successes or
failures thusfar, getting most of his minutes after the game had already
been decided, and only playing three minutes against Lithuania. His
most consequential playing time probably came in Tuesday’s game against
Tunisia, which was probably a little closer than it should have been
through fits first two quarters. Coach Krzyzewski decided that the
starters weren’t getting the job done, so he left Iguodala’s second unit
in to start the third, and they responded, opening the 13-point lead to
38 by the beginning of the fourth. ‘Dre played his typical lockdown
defense, had a nice between-the-legs pass to Kevin Love for a
three-pointer in the fourth, and also contributed this trademark
put-back highlight dunk:

Today’s game is at 5:15 EST, and should be a good one. Given that
the team has kinda played in an every-other-game sorta rhythm, hopefully
that means that this’ll be a strong effort from Team US. If not,
definitely good to get the dud out of the way before starting the games
that actually matter on Wednesday. Go America.