To quote the great American philosopher Tommy Callahan III, “It’s go time!”
The Redeem Team faces what I believe will be their most stringent test this morning against the defending Olympic champions, Argentina. Heading into the game it is safe to say that I am confident of the outcome. As long as Team USA continues to prepare for every game, play hard on defense and quite simply take every team they play as a threat I believe they will cruise to the gold medal.
However, Argentina has the top level talent, experience and confidence that can help them challenge the US in the semifinals. Plus they have the most dangerous player that does not play for Team USA, the despised Manu Ginobili. If there is a player that can carry his team to a stunning upset, it is ol’ baldy. The ability Manu has to score from outside, from midrange and in the paint, as well as to break down the defense and make the perfect pass to an open teammate, is troubling to my soul.
Kobe Bryant will undoubtedly draw the defensive assignment on Ginobili and I expect the “Doberman” to play hard, but he has not proven to be a lock down defender over the past few games. Even if Kobe has a great defensive game I do not think he can shut down a healthy Manu who can still dominate a game even if he does not score. The US will have to pressure Manu when he has the ball and collapse on him when he gets in the lane while recovering back out to the three point line to close out whoever he may kick a pass out to.
I fully expect the US to handle Argentina, but even though this group is missing players like Pepe Sanchez and Walter Hermann I have a fear of Argentina that I do not have for Spain, Greece or Lithuania.
The US gained some revenge on Greece for the loss in the World Championships a couple of years ago and tomorrow they get a chance to avenge their semifinal loss to Argentina from the 2004 Olympics. There is no chance the Redeem Team takes this game lightly considering not only the loss four years ago, but the fact that Argentina is the only team to defeat the US twice since NBA players began playing in international competition.
I have full confidence in the US to win this game and win the gold, but if the game is close in the second or third quarter, or God forbid the fourth, I will be worried enough to start chewing my fingernails.
I will not be able to live blog this one due to the fact the game is on while I am at work so let’s do a game thread. Leave your thoughts below while we cheer the Team USA on to the gold medal game and watch Manu sulk away to play for the bronze.
Of course, there is always the chance that Ginobili is carrying a two by four from a tree in the Petrified Forest.