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Quick look at opening Olympic medal round games

Aug 6, 2012, 10:26 PM EDT

Olympics Day 10 - Basketball Getty Images

Finally, we are done with the “everyone gets to play” portion of Olympic basketball. Time to get on with it.

Eight teams remain in the win-or-go home medal round tournament starting Wednesday. The matchups are set after Brazil knocked off Spain (with Spain sitting key players in the fourth) and a surprise that didn’t matter (Australia over Russia).

Here is a quick look at what is to come:

USA vs. Australia: This is a game the USA should win handily. Not Nigeria handily, but more like France handily. Australia is led by everyone’s favorite underdog Patty Mills, who hit the game-winning three against Russia Wednesday. Mills led St. Mary’s to college the NCAA tournament and has played in Portland and, last season, San Antonio. He’s fun to watch, and has averaged 20.6 points per game during the Olympics, but overmatched in this one. Australia has had a good Olympics, especially considering Andrew Bogut couldn’t play. They upset Russia and made it out of the group stage. That’s going to have to be enough.

Brazil vs. Argentina: Two South American rivals that know each other very well and this likely is the best game of the next round. Brazil has real size with Nene (who missed the team’s last game with more plantar fasciitis, which bothered him last NBA season, too) and Tiago Splitter. But their best player the last couple of games has been Leandro Barbosa, who is trying to get an NBA contract. Argentina has a lot of NBA talent — Manu Ginobili has been amazing through the games and Luis Scola is outscoring him — but they have been inconsistent — they lost to France, they struggled against Nigeria and they had a terrible second half against the United States Monday. I’d say which Argentinian team shows up will determine the outcome.

France vs. Spain: France has been underrated good — Tony Parker has played into his conditioning and is scoring 15.8 a game while controlling the offense. Nicolas Batum has been dropping 16.8 per game and playing good wing defense. Other guys like former Sonic Mickael Gelabale and Nando De Colo have stepped up at key spots. They have been a good offensive team. But they are not as talented as Spain who roles out Pau Gasol (20.6 points per game in the Olympics), Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, Juan Carlos Navarro, Rudy Fernandez and other stars. But from the tune-ups through two losses in group play (although they kind of mailed in the end of the Brazil game, some might say tanked) they have just not been right. If Spain can find their old groove they will win this one, but if they are just half a step slow France is playing very well.

Russia vs. Lithuania: Russia won Group B and looked very good, maybe the second best team in the games, so we’re willing to write off the meaningless loss to Australia Monday. Andrei Kirilenko has averaged 18.2 points per game, and fellow soon-to-be Timberwolves player Aleksey Shved has averaged a dozen a game. But Lithuania is the kind of veteran team that can make a real contest of it if Russia is not focused — just like Lithuania did against the United States. There is a chance of an upset, but the Russians are going to have to help cause their own doom.

  1. learningtosamba - Aug 7, 2012 at 12:36 AM

    Brazil beat Argentina twice in pre-Olympic games. Brazil also basically beat Russia, if not for a ridiculous buzzer beater by the Russians. Give the Brazilians some love!

  2. passerby23 - Aug 7, 2012 at 3:20 AM

    US beats Australia by 30.
    Brazil sneaks by Argentina in a tight affair.
    Spain isn’t right. France beats them.
    Russia won’t overlook Lithuania. They win by 8.

    US 92 Brazil 79
    Russia 84 France 82

    US 90 Russia 84

    Thanks everyone for coming out, but US is too good.

  3. saint1997 - Aug 7, 2012 at 4:57 AM

    I know we won’t win but…. C’MON AUSSIE! PATTY YOU BEAUTY

  4. tomtravis76 - Aug 7, 2012 at 5:32 AM

    Badmitton players get sent home from the Olympics because they “tanked” games so they could try to get their team a seeding inwhich they felt would give them the best shot at winning a gold medal, but Spain sits players, so they don’t wind up in USA’s bracket, so they can maybe meet USA in the gold medal game? Its a smart move, give yourself what you think is the best track at winning.

    You know there will be some carryover from these games into the NBA regular season, nobody can make a scene on this stage, but each cheapshot, each time a dude yaps; the guys on team USA are logging it away for that jan, feb or march midweek game.

  5. jimeejohnson - Aug 7, 2012 at 4:15 PM

    Campazzo’s not in the NBA, so unless the USA takes on Argentina, again, he’ll get away with that cheap shot. It was a machismo thing, so it’s cool (sarcasm intended). That’s when a guy like Sir Charles Barkley’s very, very good to have around, and why in the final analysis, there is no comparison between Barkley’s Dream Team and this one. Barkley would have planted Campazzo like the little tulip he really is. Jordan and Bird were known not to tolerate cheap shots, either.

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