Team USA looks to secure a spot in Sunday’s Gold medal match as they face Argentina in the semifinals of the 2012 London Olympics. After another tight first half, Team USA posted a blowout win Wednesday in the first round of metal play against Australia. LeBron James earned the first triple-double in USA Men’s Basketball history at the Olympics in the first round game. Additionally, Kobe Bryant is coming off a brilliant second half surge that led Team USA to break away with a victory and a spot in the semifinals.
Argentina defeated Brazil 82-77 in the quarterfinals to advance to the semifinals. Argentina was offensively balanced in their win against Brazil, led by Luis Scola’s 17 points, Manu Ginobili and Carlos Delfino’s 16 points each, Andres Nocioni’s 12 points and Juan Gutierrez’s 11 points.
Argentina is currently ranked as the third best team internationally. In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Argentina earned a Bronze medal after finishing with Gold in 2004. Team USA is looking to play in the finals for the second consecutive time and to leave London with back-to-back Gold medals.
Frontcourt: Luis Scola sure has made an impression on Team USA, even though it’s probably not a positive one. However, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony must limit Scola, as he, along with Ginobili, are the major sources of offense for Argentina. Scola is averaging 19.7 points and 5.0 rebounds per game in London. Nocioni and Delfino are adding balance to Argentina’s offense and defense, with 10.0 and 15.3 points per game each respectively. Reserve center Juan Gutierrez scored 12 points in twelve minutes in the August 6th game against USA. Gutierrez is a small center, but like his Argentina teammates is a very scrappy player who manages to put up consistent numbers.
Backcourt: Manu Ginobili is the face of Argentina basketball and has once again proven that fact during the 2012 London Olympics thus far. Overall, Ginobili is averaging 19.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. Kobe Bryant will have the toughest defensive assignment of the day in trying to limit Ginobili. Pablo Prigioni is not a big threat offensively to Team USA, but is much better on the defensive end. Prigioni is averaging 4.8 points, 2.6 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game so far in London. Facundo Campazzo played the most amount of minutes (37) for Argentina in their August 6th matchup against USA, where he posted eight points, four rebounds and seven assists on 3-4 shooting from the field.
Keys to Victory:
Stay Out of Foul Trouble – Team USA committed too many fouls in Wednesday’s quarterfinals game against Australia, primarily during the first half. This allowed the Aussies to stay in the game during the first two quarters, as Team USA wasn’t able to get into their signature fast-paced flow on offensive.
Tyson Chandler must also try to limit his fouls especially in the first quarter. Having to bench Chandler early in the game, quickly changes the offensive identity and ability to utilize the inside game for Team USA. Chandler’s presence is going to be crucial against an Argentina team, who is pesky and aggressive inside.
Don’t Let Argentina Get In Your Head – As mentioned above, Argentina is not afraid to be overly aggressive and use certain tactics to gain an advantage over their opponent. If you have watched the previous two USA versus Argentina games in the preliminary round and in Olympic play, Argentina’s players are in no way intimidated by Team USA and it seems as if they have to prove that point in creative ways.
We are all aware of the growth of flopping in the game of basketball. Argentina just happens to have two of the best floppers in the NBA in Luis Scola and Manu Ginobili. Team USA must not let their emotions of the manner of how Argentina plays to affect how they perform. If anything, let it fuel the way they play. USA needs to keep their heads clear and focus solely on their game plan. By doing so, they will have a reservation in the finals on Sunday.
USA (6-0) vs. Argentina (4-2)
1:00 PM PST, August 10, 2012
North Greenwich Arena, London, England
TV: NBC Sports Network
Argentina Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Pablo Prigioni
SG: Manu Ginobili
SF: Andres Nocioni
PF: Carlos Delfino
C: Luis Scola
Key Reserves: G Facundo Campazzo, C Juan Gutierrez