If the United States is going to overcome the interior size of Spain, they’re going to need big minutes at the power forward spot from Carmelo Anthony.
One day away, and you’re worried that NiuBBall ain’t going to hook you up with a little Olympics preview? Well, stop worrying. Because we got you.
It’s not as comprehensive as let’s say, a 5,000+ word tome previewing the start of the CBA season, but it should give you a nice introduction to what’s going on in London starting on the 29th. And because we like you a lot, we’re even including both the schedule for the entire tournament and the television schedule in China. So boom and boom. Enjoy.
Olympics Schedule: http://www.london2012.com/basketball/event/men/index.html
China TV Schedule: http://match.2012.sina.com.cn/tvguide/date/
Head Coach: Julio Lamas
NBA Players: Manu Ginobili (San Antonio); Pablo Prigioni (New York); Andres Nocioni (Free Agent); Luis Scola (Phoenix); Carlos Delfino (Free Agent)
The Argentines will creak into the start of their 2012 Olympic run with the oldest average age of all the teams participating this year in London. And while that will give cause for alarm among media, fans and handicappers, that fact won’t allow their opponents to relax and take it easy. Even with a 35 year-old Ginobili leading the way, Argentina is one of the most talented and experienced teams in the field and should still be considered a threat to medal. Not only because they can, but because they must: Most certainly the last Olympics for the aforementioned Ginobili, Nocioni and the newly NBA-bound Prigioni, London will represent the last run for this “Golden Generation” who shook the world by winning gold in Athens in 2004.
Head Coach: Vincent Collet
NBA Players: Tony Parker (San Antonio); Boris Diaw (San Antonio); Ronny Turiaf (Free Agent); Kevin Seraphim (Washington); Nicolas Batum (Portland); Nando de Colo (San Antonio)
France was an odds-on-favorite to medal before Parker found his way in the middle of a bottle tossing battle royale between the posses of Chris Brown and Drake at a New York nightclub in June. A shard of glass made it into the French point guard’s eye, which first casted doubt on his long-term vision, then on his eligibility for the Olympics. Fortunately for both, he’s fine, but as he recently disclosed to the media, the accident has affected his conditioning and preparation level for the tournament (and with an uncomfortable pair of protective goggles). Even with all of their NBAers, France will go as far as their former-ace-turned-wild-card takes them.
Head Coach: Kestutis Kemzura
NBA Players: Jonas Valanciunas (Toronto); Linas Kleiza (Toronto)
NiuBBall’s basketball soft spot and closet favorite international team, Lithuania and their plethora of traveling fans who paint and/or dress themselves from head-to-toe in green and gold will once again be providing viewers with a clinic on “basketball, the right way.” But will Lithuania live up to its four-year expectations of medaling? The old guard is still represented by Sarunas Jasikevicius, the timeless crafty point guard who has won on every level there is to win at in Europe. He doesn’t start anymore, but he’ll get all the big minutes down the stretch. Kleiza will be joined up front by familiar face Darius Songalia, but it’s the new guy, Valanciunas, who will be making the heads turn and talk. Drafted by Toronto last year, he was stashed away in Europe this year before the team bought out his contract and signed him to a rookie deal. He’s tall, long and athletic with improving skills and he — along with Donatas Motiejunas, who is not on this year’s roster — represents the future of Lithuanian basketball. They’re maybe not going to medal, but they’re definitely a team nobody wants to see in the knock-out round.
Head Coach: Ayo Bakare
NBA Players: Al-Farouq Aminu (New Orleans)
Nigeria surprised just about everyone by qualifying for the Olympics as the third team in the 2012 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Venezuela earlier this month. First by shocking Greece in the quarters, then by beating the Dominican Republic in the third-place game, Nigeria won its first ever Olympic berth and a chance to show the world that their nation’s basketball has truly arrived. Farouq Aminu, who played NCAA ball at Wake Forest and now plays for New Orleans in the NBA, is the guy most people probably know, but there’s other recognizable talent here, too. Ike Diogu, who’s played some years in the League, is the team’s best interior player and like his teammate, is on this team for the first time because of his parents’ Nigerian passports. Guard Tony Skinn will be familiar to those who watched George Mason go the Final Four in 2006, too. Getting out of the group won’t be impossible, but probably a longshot given their lack of experience on this stage.
Head Coach: Adel Tlatli
NBA Players: None
Tunisia has already accomplished their goal by winning AfroBasket 2011 and automatically qualifying for this year’s Olympics. With the win last year, the northern Africans ended Angola’s continental dynasty and a run that saw them go undefeated in Africa for a decade, marking the start of a new era. So anything that happens in London is gravy. They won’t win a game and will likely get blown out by every team they face, but again — this isn’t about 2012. It’s about the process, and Tunisia has to feel pretty good about where that’s going.
Head Coach: Mike Krzyzewski
NBA Players: LeBron James (Miami); Carmelo Anthony (New York); Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers); Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers); Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City); Deron Williams (Brooklyn); Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City); James Harden (Oklahoma City); Andre Iguodala (Philadelphia); Tyson Chandler (New York); Kevin Love (Minnesotta); Anthony Davis (New Orleans)
The clear favorite, the U.S. boasts what is without a doubt the most talented, versatile and deep roster this tournament has to offer. The only doubt about this team is their inside play, which is represented solely by Chandler. Anthony, James, Iguodala and Durant will all be counted on to log minutes at center and power forward, and whether they can rebound and defend while playing outside of their favored wing positions will determine their end fate. But with oodles of athleticism and guys who can play multiple positions, the Red, White and Blue should be able to make up for it by pushing a non-stop pace and wearing teams down. Anything less than gold will be a failure.
Head Coach: Brett Brown
NBA Players: Patty Mills (San Antonio)
The Boomers come into London at less than 100% with Andrew Bogut sidelined with an ankle. But with a side that plays as hard as anybody in the world, the Green and Gold still have to be given a very realistic shot to get out Group B. Mills, who played part of this season in China with Xinjiang before ultimately signing back in the NBA with San Antonio, makes this team go. Quick, tough and aggressive, the 6-0 point guard will be counted upon to do the bulk of the scoring and playmaking. Center David Anderson, who played in the NBA for a few years with Houston, Toronto and New Orleans, is one of the better bigs playing professionally in Europe right now and will also be an important player for this year’s team.
Head Coach: Ruben Magnano
NBA Players: Leandro Barbosa (Indiana); Tiago Splitter (San Antonio); Anderson Varejao (Cleveland); Nene (Washington)
After years of wondering “what if,” fans will finally have the chance to see a Brazil team with a full-strength roster now that Nene is in the fold. The Brazilians’ NBA trio of big men — Nene, Varejao and Splitter — are one of the tournament’s best and will present major issues on the glass for their smaller opponents. In the backcourt, Barbosa will blur while Marcelinho Huertas will score and create. They’ve got the talent on paper to challenge for a medal, but we’ve said that about Brazil before. Is this the year where expectations finally come to fruition?
Head Coach: Bob Donewald Jr.
NBA Players: Yi Jianlian (Free Agent)
Playing without Yao in Olympic play for the first time since 2000, this is the weakest Chinese roster we’ve seen in some time. Which makes the fact that Tunisia and Nigeria — two teams China would likely beat — are opposite them in Group A. But there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Bob Donewald Jr. has gotten the most of this Team China the last two years and even if Big Red doesn’t get through to the knock-out stages in the end, it certainly won’t be because they rolled over and got blown out every game. Yi is the guy post-Yao, and he’ll be relied upon to as their No. 1 option on offense. He’ll need help though, which means either Liu Wei, Zhu Fangyu, Wang Zhizhi or Sun Yue will have to step up and take pressure off at some point.
Head Coach: Chris Finch
NBA Players: Joel Freeland (Portland); Luol Deng (Chicago)
The host nation will participate in their first ever Olympics with a lineup that is by far the best they’ve ever put forward. Even if he’s banged up, Deng is one of the most versatile wings in London this year and figures to be towards the top of the leaderboard in total scoring. Freeland, who’s been in Europe the last few years after being drafted by Portland in 2006, is finally heading to the Pacific Northwest next year. Daniel Clark, who plays in Spain, is a big man who can rebound and stretch the floor. Team GB suffers with their guard play however, and anyone who’s ever watched international ball knows how important that position is. Since nobody cares about basketball in the UK, I wonder just how effective the home court will be and thus I wonder if they’re good enough to get out of the group.
Head Coach: David Blatt
NBA Players: Andrei Kirilenko (Minnesotta); Alexey Shved (Minnesotta); Timofey Mozgov (Denver)
Kirilenko is the tournament’s best all-around player not named LeBron James and as Tom Ziller over at SB Nation says simply, he “is the difference between not making the tournament and winning a medal.” Blatt, an American who has enjoyed an extremely impressive run at the helm of Russia over the last several years, will also have something to do with all of that if the Russians can medal, too. Point guard Shved was just recently signed by Minnesotta and his play will also dictate the team’s fortunes in London as well. Sasha Kaun and Mozgov give Russia a massive rotation at center and Viktor Khryapa is a versatile scorer.
Head Coach: Sergio Scariolo
NBA Players: Pau Gasol (Los Angeles Lakers); Marc Gasol (Memphis); Rudy Fernandez (Denver); Serge Ibaka (Oklahoma City), Jose Calderon (Toronto)
The sliver medalists at the 2008 Beijing Olympics are once again the United States’ biggest challenger to gold this year. The addition of the naturalized Ibaka, who made his Spain debut at the 2011 EuroBasket, gives the Spainards a three-headed monster inside along with the Gasol brothers that is far and away their biggest advantage against the strapped-for-size Americans. But it’s not all roses in London: Ricky Rubio’s torn ACL prevents him from joining the team and “La Bomba,” Juan Carlos Navarro is not at full strength as he’s been battling injuries in Europe this year. Still, Spain has 2008 fresh on their mind and a team that has lots of talent and chemistry to make 2012 a different outcome. Expect another gold medal game against the States.