SportsOlympics

Actions

Men's Basketball Quarterfinals: USA faces big test against Spain

Men's Basketball Quarterfinals: USA faces big test against Spain
Posted at 3:45 AM, Aug 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-02 09:07:01-04

Pool play is over. It's do or die time for eight of the top men's basketball teams competing at the Tokyo Olympics.

The men's basketball quarterfinals begin Tuesday night at 9 p.m. ET between Slovenia and Germany and continue into Wednesday morning, wrapping up with Australia vs. Argentina.

SLOVENIA VS. GERMANY

Slovenia may be the biggest story of the men's basketball competition at the Tokyo Olympics. Led by Luka Doncic, the Slovenians qualified for men's basketball for the first time in Olympic history and are now one of the hottest teams in the quarterfinals.

Germany, meanwhile, hasn't had quite the run Slovenia's had. The Germans only won one game during the group stage (a 99-92 victory over Nigeria) and will be heavily tested against a Slovenian team playing about as well as any squad still competing. However, Spain did provide a blueprint of how to slow Slovenia down — shut down Doncic. It's easier said than done, but Spain was neck-and-neck with Slovenia's squad thanks to their emphasis on limiting Doncic's impact. Germany will need to do the same.

Needless to say, though, a Germany victory over Slovenia would be a massive upset.

UNITED STATES VS. SPAIN

Team USA appears to have found its rhythm after suffering a disappointing loss to France in their first game of the competition, but they will need to be at their best early Tuesday morning.

Spain, led by Ricky Rubio and the Gasol brothers, is one of the most dangerous teams in Tokyo and will be looking to rebound after losing to Slovenia in their final game of group play. The United States has been inconsistent far too often throughout the competition, and they'll need stars Kevin Durant and Damian Lillard to bring their A-game at tip-off.

Luckily, the U.S. has benefitted from the solid play of two-way playmaker Jrue Holiday and Draymond Green, who, incredibly, still has not missed a shot since arriving in Tokyo. So long as the stars show up for the Americans, this shouldn't be too close a contest for the No. 1 team in the world.

"Shouldn't" being the key word.

ITALY VS. FRANCE

Italy has had a strong showing in Tokyo thus far. While they are by no means the favorites to win gold, they did manage to take down Germany and Nigeria while narrowly falling to Australia during the prelims. They've played some competitive basketball thus far and haven't looked out of place against their Group B opponents.

France, however, is a very different beast. Led by Rudy Gobert and Nicolas Batum, the French are one of the better teams in Tokyo and are the only team to beat the U.S. squad since 2004. France may have been upset by Japan during prelims, but they responded well by taking down the Czech Republic in convincing fashion.

The Italians are a tenacious squad, but they'll have quite the challenge ahead of them Tuesday.

AUSTRALIA VS. ARGENTINA

Argentina, the last country not named the United States to win a men's basketball gold medal, is hoping to repeat history and make another run.

It won't be easy for them, though. Argentina only managed to earn one win in group play, and it came against an inferior Japanese team. Still, they were part of an extremely talented Group C quartet. Their first loss came to Slovenia, one of the top teams in Tokyo. Their second came against another juggernaut in Spain.

Australia is no slouch either, however. The Australians went undefeated during group play and were the unquestioned kings of Group B during prelims. Australia isn't incapable of a collapse, but they've beaten much better teams than Argentina.