Though Team Russia didn’t quite reach the lofty heights BiE had forecast, a hearty congratulations go out to the team today for its 81-77 win over Argentina to take the 2012 Olympics bronze medal in its best showing of the post-Soviet Union era. Wire report runs below.
2012 Olympic basketball: The perspective from Spain on the gold-medal game (plus really specific Official Fearless Prediction™)
Team USA is transparent enough that everyone seems to know their weaknesses and how to exploit them; the blueprint is universally known, but no one is able to implement the game plan. The enormous quantity of talent on Team USA means that playing even a perfect game does not translate to a win.
“We will try not have too many possessions, not miss many shots and control the boards,” said Juan Carlos Navarro. Doing it all at the same time is difficult, but we will try. I don’t know if we’ll reach 100 points … but the points are not important. [What’s important is] to play good defense.”
What else must be done:
• Limit turnovers. It is evident that the U.S. defensive pressure up top results in many steals that finish with easy baskets on the other end. Attacking with the ball and getting off to a quick start offensively is key to the USA game. And against Team USA, passes to the wing or inside expose the offensive to further losses amidst the quick hands and speed of the American defenders.
Now that BallinEurope’s personal Olympic bracket has been shot to hell, BiE will revert to the cumulative readers/contributors’ podium picks of USA-Russia-Argentina. Followers know that BiE’s ridden Russia since the opening ceremonies and the quarterfinals, despite a Spain win, only strengthened this convinction. Below, then, are five reasons why Russia will overcome the 4.5-point favorites.
Right, things will be tipping off shortly in London with eight teams remaining in bids for a podium spot. And with the votes in and brackets fashioned, let’s see what BallinEurope contributors (including David Hein, Enrico Cellini and Sam Chadwick) and readers find in their own crystal balls…
Gold medal: USA (with 86% of votes)
So probably the only surprise here is that it wasn’t unanimous. Dissenting votes were logged for Spain and Russia, though the latter may carry a bit of an asterisk. The sole voice liking the Reds to take it all was commentator El Diablo from Australia (!) who took his home side to win the gold, then backed down, explaining “I still reckon that Russia will beat the US, assuming Shevd doesn’t lose his shit again…”
Well, it had to happen. In the wake of the shocking (not!) defeat handed to Spain by the boys from Brazil yesterday, you knew allegations of tanking in order to avoid an earlier date with Team USA would be forthcoming; heck, Sergio Scariolo did. Los Rojos’ coach was quoted in a wire story as saying, “I don’t want to be disrespectful but this is not an intelligent issue to talk about.”
Amid the rather baseless speculation much is sadly forgotten: For example, Leandro Barbosa’s wonderful performance. Brazil showing halfcourt mastery in beating Spain at its own game and the South American side’s nicely energetic and up-tempo style. More sad, slow play from the Spanish guards and sharpshooters (BiE’s looking at you, Juan Carlos) absolutely typical in these Olympics. The fact that the overall 6-of-23, 23-point performance by those not named Gasol or Ibaka was merely a slight exaggeration of the pool play games in general, as Spain minus the big three went for 37.8% overall shooting.
No, it really isn’t.
BallinEurope may be pulling the trigger a bit early on this one, but has to ask: Was the loss to Russia on Saturday a harbinger of things to come from Team Spain? Not to put too fine a point on it, but is the marathon (by today’s standards) golden age of Spanish basketball in international competition over?
It is that sheer length of the era of Spanish dominance that makes one wonder about the security of Los Rojos’ presumptive top-dog status going forward: Since 2001, Team Spain has medalled in nine of 13 international tournaments – including the Olympic Games, FIBA Eurobasket, FIBA World Championship/Cup and Mediterranean Games. In the past six years, the Spanish have taken home three golds and five silver from FIBA and the IOC, the sole missed podium coming at the 2010 FIBA Worlds, when Pau Gasol no-showed and Team USA brought its “B Team.”
“Ladies, ladies, I don’t mean to brag but, I’m the greatest.” – Sidney Deane
Kudos go out today from BallinEurope to, well, BallinEurope. And thanks to Team Russia, whose stirring 77-74 win from an early 22-5 deficit against favored Team Spain brings BiE up to a 19-1 mark in Official Fearless Predictions™ thus far.
These have already been written up on BiE in one form or another, but we’ll just make these Fearless Predictions™ on the remainder of today’s games. Official now: BiE’s got USA over Lithuania (but by fewer than 34.5 points); Brazil over China; Argentina over Nigeria in a deceptively close one after the African side redeems themselves after the USA Armageddon Game; and, in the upset special of the day – and with two players short and Oz hot, this one would really be an upset – Team Britain over Australia.
And here’s a second question: Shall composition of the requiem for Lietuva’s 2012 Olympic bid begin now? Sadly, it doesn’t look good for our heroes with Team USA on the slate tomorrow and a first-round date with presumably Spain or (BiE’s pick) Russia in the knockout stage – and this in the 20th anniversary year of the country’s greatest-ever Olympic performance.
But first things first. Jonas Valančiūnas. Let’s just get right to the stat lines.
Just enough time to get in some Official Fearless Predictions™ this morning … note that BallinEurope is at 12-0 through two days of Olympic competition. Note, too, that only serious homers and lobotomized octopi should be less than 11-1 at this point anyway, depending on the person/being’s choice for the Argentina-France game.
So here goes on a day with what should be a couple of fair battles and a bunch of blowouts: Lithuania over France (still running with this pick); Australia over China; Argentina over Tunisia; Russia over Brazil in today’s match of the day; Spain over Britain; and Team USA over Nigeria.
BallinEurope’s Lithuanian agent Skyped BiE today with two words on his mind: “Lithuania’s doom.”
“Today?” BiE countered.
“No, it already happened two days ago,” said Y. and he was off with a prescient, simple formula for success after the 23-point blowout at the hands of Argentina.