The United States now only has to defeat Spain on Sunday to win the Gold medal, and after defeating a mostly Manu Ginobili-less Argentina, the United States’ worst result will be a Silver Medal. But you know darn well that they did not come here to win Silver, so Sunday’s re-match against Spain (who Team USA handled easily in pool play, but will the familiarity help Spain this time around?) is huge.
The United States won for mostly three reasons:
1. They dominated the first quarter, ending the quarter up 30-11. As a lot of folks have noted, the key to beating the United States is to make them play from behind – Argentina could not do that.
2. Argentina lost their best player, the utterly amazing (but sadly fragile) Manu Ginobili. Let us just hope he is ready to play when the Spurs’ season starts – an NBA season with a hurt Ginobili, while normal enough by now, is not nearly as fun as when he is healthy.
Yes, they were missing Ginobili, but still, the US defended Argentina brilliantly, especially on the three-point shooting, causing Argentina to miss seventeen of the twenty-three threes attemped. Carlos Delfino was the main culprit, shooting 3 for 10.
Offensively, Team USA, outside the first quarter and a nice stretch involving Chris Paul and Dwight Howard (The NBA has put all their players up for re-drafting, you have the second pick, Lebron has obviously gone #1 – who do you take, Paul or Howard?), played a poor offensive game, and they especially had problems with Argentina’s zone. You have to give props to Argentina – they did not show the zone all tournament long, just so they could break it out now to screw with the US, and it worked!
Kobe Bryant was the main problem, shooting 5 for 14 overall and 2 for 9 from three! The United States made 10 out of 31 threes:
A. That’s bad
B. That’s especially bad because most of the threes were just uggggggly (I’m looking at you, Kobe).
Also, Kobe Bryant, have you never played international ball before? You will get slapped, shoved, etc. Every team has, like, 10 Raja Bells, and they’re not going to call the fouls, so please, either pull a Duncan and say, “Screw this BS” or play and quit whining. Lebron James is, like, 12 years old – he should not have to tell a grown man like yourself to quit whining and get your head in the game!
Kobe Bryant is a great player, by the way. I just want to get that in there, because I feel I’ve been a bit harsh on the guy in these game recaps, but man, has he been annoying me. And when he’s playing alongside Lebron, who just looks so much better, it grates on me.
Spain meanwhile won a hard-fought game over Lithuania on the back of Pau Gasol, 91-86. Spain will be an interesting re-match, and good to see, as if the US defeats them, they’ll have beaten the last Olympic champ as well as the last World Championships champ. Nice.
Oh, in other news, the US Government has officially granted the NBA permission to pursue the Iranian big man, Hamed Ehadadi. As I wrote awhile back, the anti-Iranian statutes in US law are so broad and so scary that the NBA was rightfully frightened of any of their teams approaching them before the US granted them a license to do so, and luckily, the US did so the other day. That was nice. I wonder if anyone will actually sign the guy (he is over seven feet tall, so perhaps).