clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

On To The Gold Medal Game!

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

The U.S. had a bizarre game with Argentina, shooting out to a huge first quarter lead, watching Manu Ginobili leave with an injury, then seeing the Argentines cut a 30-11 to 46-40. Chicago Bull Andrés Nocioni, who was playing on a bum leg, was the key for Argentina. The U.S. won the game, but their rivals showed immense heart and courage.  More importantly, they showed Spain a way to conceivably beat the U.S.

Argentina, which hadn't zoned a single minute in the tournament, switched to zone fairly quickly and didn't stick to the same one, either.  It clearly flustered the Americans,who didn't attack it well at all and appeared ready to lose their composure. They didn't, thanks largely to Jason Kidd, who took over and steadied the team.

Nonetheless, the Spanish surely took note and seeing zone in the finals will be no great surprise.  And since they had no luck running in the first game, they may well take the advice of Luis Scola, who says "You gotta play ugly.  If you try to play 'Showtime,' the way [the U.S.] plays, you try to throw the ball up, they're going to be better. They jump higher, they run faster, they're stronger . . .You've got make them feel uncomfortable. That's the only way."

But there is another factor in the title game, one which shouldn't be overlooked, and that's the humiliation the U.S. visited on Spain in the first game, beating them by 37. It's widely overlooked, but in the following game, Spain beat Angola 98-50, and it's not like Angola is horrible. They then knocked off Croatia by 13, and a tough Lithuania 91-86.

They reacted to their crushing loss with pride, in other words.  Odds are they'll react the same way in the gold medal game.

On the other hand, the U.S. team didn't come this far to let up in the finals.  Sunday should be, appropriately, the most intense game of the tournament.