It is going to be a very tough ordeal for the Australian Boomers in their quest for gold at the London Olympics. Perhaps that should be the pursuit for a podium finish.
The Boomers sit in group B with Brazil, China, Spain, the hosts Great Britain and Russia. The hardest pool by far. On the other side are the gold medal favourites the US, Argentina, France, Tunisia, Nigeria and Lithuania.
The Andrew Bogut-less Australian’s have delivered several solid performances in the lead up to the games however the true test is about to come. There are no more exhibition matches – every game means business. The physical Aussies will be led by San Antonio Spurs third-string point guard Patty Mills and centre David Andersen.
Let’s take a look at their competition.
The Americans could send two teams and still take home gold and silver. These guys should make it a back-to-back Olympic gold – even without Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh, Andrew Bynum and Blake Griffin not in the line-up due to injuries. They do still have however Kobe, LBJ and KD to lead the way. Coach Ks men went into the exhibition game against the reigning European champions – Spain – with a poor three-point shooting average (the shorter international line I must add) but improved and finished with 13 of 23 whereas the Spanish shot 26.4 percent. They’ve dominated the paint, running the fast breaks and on the defensive end and will be crowned Olympic champions.
It’s just a shame that the Spaniards are missing Ricky Rubio, Marc Gasol, Juan Carlos Navarro and Rudy Fernandez because they would’ve served it right up to the Americans. Don’t get me wrong, they still will but not to the extent that they would’ve with those aforementioned on the court. Spain’s big impact players are down low on block – Paul Gasol and Serge Ibaka. They’re better than the US bigs but will be found lacking in the guard positions.
A likely contended to play-off in the gold medal game. Just like Spain, Brazil has several NBA players representing – Nene, Anderson Varejao, Leandro Barbosa and Tiago Splitter. They also have guard Marcelinho Huertas who plays for Regal FC Barcelona – a serious playmaker (referred to as the Steve Nash of his league). They dished it up to Team USA recently and we may well just see a replay in that final game.
Whatever you do, don’t tell the Argentinean’s that they’re old. Because Manu Ginobili has heard it all before during his time with the Spurs, and although this may be Andres Nocioni and Luis Scola’s last Olympics, they cannot be counted out. They also possess Carlos Delfino who is making a comeback form hernia surgery earlier in the year and 35 year-old Pablo Prigioni. Depth will be their downfall in London.
The French basketball team make their way back to the games after missing qualifications in 2004 and 2008: they took our silver in the Sydney 2000 games. They bring a solid team too to London. Led by Spurs point guard Tony Park, Le Bleus brings a lineup including Nicolas Batum, Joakim Noah, Ronny Turiaf, Kevin Seraphin, Boris Diaw, Mickael Pietrus and his brother Florent and Nando De Colo. Against this bunch however, all teams will need to do is shut down Parker and the games in theirs for the taking. Welcome back France but better luck next time.
Special mentions: Russia and Lithuania.
Key games to watch.
29 July – Brazil v Australia.
29 July – Argentina v Lithuania.
31 July – Australia v Spain.
2 August – Brazil v Russia.
6 August – Australia v Russia.
6 August – Spain v Brazil.
6 August – Argentina v USA.