And you can never count out the Brazilians. Brazil lost by only 5 to the U.S. team in an exhibition and they have a collection of valuable role players from the NBA to form their roster (Nene Hilario, Leandro Barbosa, Tiago Splitter, and Anderson Varejao). Don’t discount these guys. While they may not be marquee names in the NBA, this isn’t the NBA, and they’ve played together for a while now and become a strong team. They haven’t finished higher than 5th place, however, since 1968, so that is why they are a long shot at 40/1.
Argentina has four NBA players on their roster, and all four come together perfectly in International play. Manu Ginobili is the star of this squad and will be looking forward to rejoining them after sitting out the 2010 World Championships with an injury. He’s joined by Carlos Delfino, Andres Nocioni, and Luis Scola. Scola was absolutely dominant in the 2010 Championships and has carved out a nice career for himself in the NBA. At 28/1 odds, I do like Argentina as another long shot to win the gold.
Argentina has been one of the more enigmatic squads so far. They blew out a very good Lithuanian team by 23 in their first game, but since then have lost by 7 to France, and they only beat a very poor Nigerian team by 14. They took care of business against Tunisia, but the Tunisians went 0-5 in pool play and had no business being in this tournament.
So how do Manu Ginobili and company step up to the challenge when they haven’t had a single challenge yet, save Tony Parker and the French squad?
Argentina arguably has the most offensive talent of any non-US team in this tournament, but their defense can be suspect, and their execution is dubious. They need good play at the point from Pablo Prigioni to remain a top tier contender, and the quartet of Carlos Delfino/Andres Nocioni/Luis Scola/Manu Ginobili must continue to pour in the points for the Argentines to have any shot against strong teams like the one they are facing here in Brazil.
Brazil just beat Spain in an “Oh, by the way,” game since both teams had already qualified for medal play, but in that game the Brazilians received 23 from high volume scorer NBA guard Leandro Barbosa, and also got 13 points from the 6’10” Marcus Vinicius. Barbosa’s fellow NBA players Anderson Varejao and Tiago Splittler combiend for an additional 18 points. Brazil has the weapons to be sure, and Argentina might not have the tools to slow them down.
As much as I like Argentina, I don’t think they can handle Brazil’s offensive assualt and Brazil is one of the few teams with the interior defense to match up against the Gasol brothers. I like Brazil to win this game, and not just because they just beat Spain. They have a stronger team overall and Ginobili is going to have to go nuts to keep Argentina alive, with Varejao likely checking Scola and keeping him from a monster game. Brazil by 5.