Knockout Stage Preview
Sean-lympics Day 10
All Basketball Today
Group B Final Day
First I feel I need to apologize to anyone who read my last analysis of all the tie-break possibilities. Basically, my educated guesses were not correct. And though it doesn’t seem that anyone knew exactly what to expect, my analysis should have come with more certainty and I apologize for putting something out that was not fully educated.
Brazil:86 def. Nigeria:69
Brazil did their job but needed Spain to lose. It was a much quieter outing from the Brazil faithful as compared to their games against Spain and Argentina and it will be sad to see them go. Losing the host nation is a tough blow for the tournament but we enjoyed both of these teams while they were here. I thought that Neto and Felicio both had good moments and I am excited to see them in the NBA next year. They will both occupy backup roles and I am not sure if either one of them will ever advance past that. Nigeria put up much more of a fight than I expected in this tournament and if they had their best squad they may have challenged for the knockouts.
Spain:92 def. Argentina:73
The Spanish are peaking at the right time, their last two games have been by far their most impressive. Argentina just didn’t have the firepower to either stop or keep up with Spain and will now limp into a quarterfinal with the USA. The Spanish finished group play looking like the best team in the tournament and will also land on the US side of the bracket. Spain looked great in this game, and if they dispose of France in a similar manner the United States should be very nervous about missing out at a gold medal shot.
Croatia:90 def. Lithuania:81
Lithuania has done the opposite of Spain, they seemed to have peaked too early and are in absolute disarray at this point. That may be a little harsh considering Croatia was shooting 83% from three at a point in the fourth quarter but Lithuania’s defense has been abysmal. They don’t seem to have found the correct rotations within the team and Jonas Valanciunas who is supposed to be their NBA star has been close to terrible. He needs to be a physical force in every game that Lithuania play otherwise there is very little point in having him out there. Croatia wes sensational, led by Simon who looked like he wanted to single-handedly outscore Lithuania at times. Saric, Hezonja and Bogdanovic were also very good. I wish Hezonja was more aggressive, you rarely get to see his athleticism in the course of a game.
Knock Out Stage Preview
The knock out round has given us two very different brackets, the one loaded with past success stories (USA, Argentina, Spain, and France) and the one featuring the up and coming nations (Serbia, Croatia, Australia, and to a lesser extent Lithuania).
The Traditional Powers
USA vs. Argentina
This will actually be the third game of the day on Wednesday but features the two traditional American powers. The United States have dominated North American basketball, well since they invented it. The Argentine’s golden generation has dominated basketball in South America for more than a decade. This meeting provides a very nice backdrop to talk about former times of crisis with team USA. Having said that, team USA will win this one by 20.
Spain vs. France
Here we have the two European powers for the second game on the day. France has failed to overcome Spain time and time again and this time doesn’t look any different. It is a bad outcome for France who were probably hoping that my calculations were correct and Spain would sit atop Group B instead of in second. France and Spain are very familiar with each other but Spain seems to be hitting their heights at the right time.
Croatia vs. Serbia
Two former Yugoslavian countries battle it out in a game that will be a true rivalry. Croats and Serbs have a “checkered” history (I actually feel bad about that one) and emotions could fly high on Wednesday. This will be the last game of the day and features a plethora of relatively new NBA talent. Between Croatia’s Saric, Hezonja and Bogdanovic to Serbia’s Jokic and Bogdanovic you could actually form a really exciting young core. But they will line up as opponents. This one will be a commentators nightmare as both Bogdanovics could go for 20+ and keeping them straight won’t be the easiest task. If Croatia shoots anything close to what they did against Lithuania this game will be theirs but Serbia has played well too and this should be a very even game. Only because Simon seems in amazing form right now and Croatia seem to be finding new things about their team every time they suit up I am going to go with Croatia. But maybe Teodosic will work his magic and lead the Serbs to victory.
Australia vs. Lithuania
Many have tabbed Australia as the next nation to beat the USA, Lithuania has long been the one that has given them trouble. This game, that will kick off the knockout stages, comes down to simple match ups for me. First, there is the guard tandem of Australia’s huge quickness advantage against Lithuania. Then there is Andrew Bogut’s huge physicality advantage against JV and I think that seals it. Valanciunas will have to play much more physical and Lithuania will need to spread the ball out very will to even have a chance in this game, I think Australia could win easily.