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Team USA To Open With Spain In The Knockout Round

Now we’re down to brass tacks

Olympics: Basketball-Men Group A - USA-IRI
Jul 28, 2021; Saitama, Japan; USA player Jayson Tatum (10) dunks against Iran during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Saitama Super Arena. 
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Olympic basketball team is down to eight and happily, the US is still in it. This didn't seem certain during exhibition play, nor after the ugly loss to France, but things look much better after big wins over Iran and the Czech Republic.

Here are the matchups for the first round of knockout play:

  • Germany vs. Slovenia
  • US vs. Spain
  • Italy vs. France
  • Argentina vs. Australia

As you see, Team USA opens with old foe Spain. We mean that in two ways.

First, Spain has been legitimately great and one of the toughest teams for the US to beat during the last 12 years when Mike Krzyzewski ran the program. And second, they are 12 years older.

Pau Gasol is 41, Rudy Fernandez and Marc Gasol are 36, Sergio Rodriguez is 34 and Ricky Rubio is now 30.

It’s obviously not impossible for them to win - the US has shown weakness - but the core of the great Spanish team is significantly older and that just makes things tougher.

That game tips off at 12:40 EDT on Tuesday.