It’s Medal Time – Olympic Basketball Preview

As the Olympics enter their second week, the Pool play has ended and eight teams have a chance to win the gold medal. Starting on Monday night, the eight remaining teams will battle it out for the ultimate prize. So let’s take a look at what to watch out for in the four games in the quarterfinal round of the Men’s Olympic basketball:

 

Slovenia vs. Germany (9PM Eastern Time- Monday)

With their win over Spain on Sunday, Slovenia finished Group C in first place and earned this matchup against a German team that went 1-2 in Group B. Led by Dallas Mavericks’ and All-NBA team member Luka Doncic, Slovenia averaged 109 points a game in their three victories. They hit the second-most three-pointers in group play and averaged seven more free throw attempts more than the next team in the entire Olympics. Mike Tobey is averaging a double-double and is leading the Olympics, averaging 13 rebounds per game.

Germany is lead by Maodo Lo, who lead the team in both scoring and assists in group play. Germany has six players who average between eight and fourteen points per game. But Germany has struggled on the defensive end, allowing nothing less than 89 points in any of their three games in pool play.

Prediction: Slovenia has shown that they can score on anyone. Expect Doncic and company to do the same against Germany. Slovenia wins, 105-90.

 

United States vs. Spain (12:40 AM Eastern Time- Tuesday)

By winning the last two games by over 30 points, the United States earned the spot as the best second-place team in either of the three groups. Led by Boston Celtics’ forward Jayson Tatum and Brooklyn Nets’ forward Kevin Durant, Team USA has started to find a rhythm they couldn’t find in their exhibition games in Las Vegas. They lead the Olympics in three-pointers made and second in points per game as a team.

Even though they lost their final group matchup against Slovenia, Spain is still considered one of the best teams in the tournament. Cleveland Cavaliers’ Point Guard Ricky Rubio leads this experienced squad into this matchup. Rubio is third in the Olympics in scoring at over 21 points per game and second in assists at 7.3 per game.

Prediction: These two teams have played in the last three Olympics in the medal round. The United States won each of those games and the exhibition game in Las Vegas two weeks ago. Spain is second in the FIBA rankings and should provide Team USA fits until late in the fourth quarter. USA wins in a close one, 88-82.

 

France vs. Italy (4:25 AM Eastern Time- Tuesday)

The winner of Group A has been impressive in each of their three wins in group play. Led by balanced scoring and outstanding defense, France has won 10 out of their 12 quarters played in the Olympics. By using their depth, the French have worn down each of their opponents so far. Boston Celtics’ swingman Evan Fournier leads the team in scoring, averaging over 17 points per game.

Italy fell three points away from winning Group B, losing to Australia by three points. Forward Simone Fontecchio not only leads Italy in scoring (18 points per game) but he has knocked in half of his three-point attempts so far. Golden State Warriors’ Point Guard Nico Mannion has been outstanding in dictating the pace, as he has provided 15 assists and only two turnovers so far in the Olympics.

Prediction: As much as I have enjoyed Italy, this is the wrong matchup for them in the Medal round. Expect France to use their depth and fourth quarter Fournier to show up when it counts again. France advances in a tight game, 85-81.

 

Australia vs. Argentina (8:00 AM Eastern Time- Tuesday)

Outside of the close victory against Italy, Australia has played dominating basketball throughout the Olympics. Against both Nigeria and Germany, the Australians allowed 20 or fewer points in a quarter in six out of the eight quarters. Patty Mills leads the Olympics with 12 three-pointers made. Australia has four players who average double figures.

The team from Argentina finished with a 1-2 record in Group play and find themselves in an interesting matchup in the quarterfinals. In their victory over Japan to qualify for the Medal round, Luis Scola scored 23 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. FIBA’s fourth-ranked team will need Scola to have another performance like that in order to get them to the semi-finals. Denver Nuggets’ Point Guard Facundo Campazzo has contributed 16 points, 6 assists and 5.7 rebounds per game.

Prediction: If you have time in your busy day to watch any game, this is the one to watch. The matchup of Campazzo and Mills will be entertaining as both players will not only score points but get their teammates involved. Both teams are ranked in the top four in the FIBA rankings and this matchup will prove why. I like the sharpshooting Mills and Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles to provide too much offense for Argentina to advance. Australia moves on, 82-78.

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